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The XXXVII Nordic Ophthalmological Congress takes place in Copenhagen on June 17–20th, 2006.

You might ask why we still arrange Nordic congresses. Is there a space for such activities? What is so special about Nordic ophthalmology? After all, you might continue, we are all awash with information and drowning in invitations to congresses and meetings.

The answers revolve around the fact that the Nordic countries share a number of characteristics: their populations are fairly homogeneous; their social hierarchies are alike, and their health systems are similar. The medical eye services provided to society are also of equivalent levels in the Nordic countries. However, the ways in which we deliver these services are different. As a result, there is scope for us to improve aspects of our services and, more importantly, to learn from one another.

Therefore, the theme for the 2006 Congress is ‘Total Nordic Ophthalmology’. This means that, at this meeting, we will try to cover each and every aspect of ophthalmology.

In order to offset our central players – ophthalmologists in clinical practice – we will focus on all aspects of medical eye care. Consequently, as well as ophthalmologists in private practice, we expect all health professionals working in eye care to participate in the Congress. Secretaries, nurses, orthoptists and opticians employed in ophthalmological departments and clinics have been invited to participate. In addition, ophthalmologists from ophthalmic departments and dedicated researchers from basic science institutes will contribute to the multifaceted palette of presentations.

By integrating all the various participants in the eye care systems in the Nordic countries in the Congress, we hope to facilitate a process of learning and sharing of information that will continue to grow and thrive.

Over recent weeks, more than 30 scientific steering committees, each of which includes a member from each Nordic country, have evaluated the many abstracts submitted to the Congress. A plethora of inspiring scientific sessions, symposia, courses and poster sessions have been identified. The programme for the meeting is complete. You may view it at the website http://www.NOK2006.dk.

The various groups of ophthalmic health workers each have their own sessions at the Congress. However, all participants are entitled to join any session. This policy allows us a unique opportunity to learn from one another. Furthermore, this year the large series of courses, addressing all aspects of ophthalmology, is free.

The Nordic Congress is also the forum at which the activities of the Nordic Ophthalmologic Committee (NOK) are discussed and evaluated. This year, at the Nordic Plenary Assembly, the future of the NOK is in focus. Over the years, the main objective of the NOK has been the planning of congresses. By tradition, the meeting has been hosted by the various Nordic countries, and the host country has been selected according to a schedule of rotation. Likewise, the administrative personnel and congress organizers have been rotated. This loose structure has ensured the input of fresh ideas and has prevented arrangements becoming routine; however, it has also resulted in the loss of information and expertise. The Nordic ophthalmological societies have therefore, in agreement with the Board of Acta Ophthalmologica, decided to fuse the secretariats of the NOK and Acta. The creation of a permanent Acta−NOK secretariat will ensure both the preservation of knowledge and continuation in congress planning, and will guarantee a higher level of professionalism and economic management. It should also represent the first step in the creation of a Nordic academy of ophthalmology, which might ensure the preservation of consistently high levels of clinical and scientific ophthalmology in the Nordic countries in the future.

The fundamental elements of the Congress, its scientific and educational content, are now complete. You now have to use it. Therefore, mark the dates of the Congress on your calendar and register as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you in Copenhagen!