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What's coming in 2010?


Editor's Note: Because the chief medical editor s taking a week this summer to expose himself to the harmful rays of the sun at the Jersey shore, we reprint a commentary from last year.


Peter J. McDonnell, MD
Son 2009 will come to a close and we mid-Atlantic residents have our fireplaces burning this Thanksgiving as the winter cold approaches. But no matter how harsh the coming winter, we ophthalmologists can pause to give thanks for another good year.

Although many sectors of the economy remain hard-pressed, we have benefited from continued high demand for our services and continued advances in biomedical science. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents continue to prove themselves of dramatic benefit to retinovascular diseases, and the demonstration of some dramatic benefits from gene therapy in a number of patients with retinal degenerations has renewed hope for gene therapy and biotechnology in general.

What will 2010 have in store? Wise persons know it's dangerous to try to predict the future, but it is, oh, so tempting. At the risk of looking foolish down the road, here are some of my best guesses.

Like many, I have high hopes that the recession will abate, employment will begin to increase, and the economic lives of Americans will improve. The day before Thanksgiving 2009, the S&P 500 has closed at about 1100, and some cognoscenti predict another collapse due to continued unemployment and mortgage foreclosures. Optimistic myself, I hope the stock market will continue to rise. But my friend, who is a glaucoma specialist with a brother who is a finance whiz, says to buy gold and Australian currency and stay away from stocks and the euro.

On the sports front, count me among the many Peyton Manning fans who expect to see our favorite quarterback lead his (formerly Baltimore) Colts to the Super Bowl. But don't be shocked if the New Orleans Saints, having a great year so far and inspired from the adversity faced by their city, prevail over Manning.

My favorite sport is basketball, and with March Madness but a few months away, does anyone seriously doubt that perennial powerhouse Duke will dominate all comers? Butler University may surprise us this year because their defense is so strong. They might even make it to the Final Four, but there is no way that they could beat the Blue Devils.

Finally, in the sports world, expect Tiger Woods to become even more famous. Although there are many uncertainties that make sports predictions difficult, this is one fellow who always serves as a real role model for us sports-minded men.

On the political front, the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) Aug. 25th has caused some to doubt whether major health-care reform will pass this Congress. It may take a while, but it is very likely we will see this come to pass. What the details will be and how it will affect ophthalmologists and those of us who work in academic medical centers is anyone's guess. My bold prediction, based upon the financial situations of the federal Medicare and most state Medicaid programs, is that the costs of such a major overhaul of our health system will not be anticipated accurately but will exceed official projections (who knew?!). But, in 2010, we Americans finally will have health-care legislation with the same kind of quality that Toyota puts into its cars.

There is concern by some that a new CERN (the world's largest physics laboratory) particle accelerator in France will cause a black hole and annihilate our planet in 2010.1 Personally, I doubt this, but I wouldn't be surprised if it resulted in some big earthquakes and maybe a giant plume from a European volcano or two early in the new year.

Lastly (and experience proves this really is not a prediction but pretty much a certainty), in the summer of 2010, I will fall asleep in my beach chair at some point and wake up with a sun burn. At the same time—incredibly—an Ophthalmology Times reader will be wasting valuable minutes reading this column.

Reference

1. Good news! Black hole won't destroy Earth. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14923900/








By Peter J. McDonnell, MD director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

He can be reached at 727 Maumenee Building 600 N. Wolfe St. Baltimore, MD 21287-9278 Phone: 443/287-1511 Fax: 443/287-1514 E-mail:

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