Normalcy. It’s something many of us have craved for almost 3 years. After returning from Hawaiian Eye and Retina 2023, I can tell you, normalcy feels awesome. Three years ago, we started hearing rumblings about a spreading virus. Little did we know that in the coming months, normalcy would be replaced by the “new normal”.
I take a lot of pride in the fact that in May 2021, Hawaiian Eye became not just the first live meeting to return in ophthalmology, but the first live medical meeting period. While it was great to be back, it was very different for obvious reasons. However, with attendance at about 50% of previous years, we were able to travel to a meeting and meet with each other in person, appropriately distanced. In January 2022, the meeting returned to its normal timing. We kicked the year off where we always had, but there were still questions about what the year might bring. Meeting attendance increased to about 75-80% of previous years, but there was some awkwardness around seeing each other. Elbow bump? Fist bump? Handshake? Hug? Nevertheless, it was great to be back, and everyone appreciated being there.
Finally, this year felt normal. Meeting attendance was back to pre-pandemic attendance, the meeting area and the exhibit hall were buzzing, and almost every table and chair in the lobby and terrace was occupied with meetings. There was one thing I noticed that I hope is forever changed: stress levels were much lower and there was a higher level of appreciation among everyone for the opportunity to be there and meet face-to-face. That’s what has always made Hawaiian Eye unique, the level of engagement. This is where companies and physicians start their year. Conversations that start at the meeting turn into sales and partnerships throughout the year. This meeting sums up what makes the eyecare markets special: the relationships and collaborations that lead to future innovations. If you are in the ophthalmology market and have not attended Hawaiian Eye, I would strongly recommend looking into the 2024 meeting—I’ll see you there!
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