SOE – About the Society

SOE is the abbreviation for Societas Ophthalmologica Europæa and is the European Society of Ophthalmology with representatives from 44 European National Ophthalmological Societies.

Created in 1956 the first Council was made up of representatives from 19 different European countries. The first Congress of SOE was held in Athens in 1960 and was attended by 750 ophthalmologists. The Congress has grown year on year since and it is anticipated that there will be more than 4000 ophthalmologists at the 2017 Congress.

While the original aims remain relevant, today’s Society’s mission is to become the central point of European Ophthalmology primarily through education as well as fostering closer collaboration with Subspecialty Societies and Supranational Organisations within Europe and beyond.


The EuLDP Program seeks to highlight the importance of understanding the organisation of ophthalmology outside of Europe as well as offering informal networking with counterparts in the US and Latin America.

General aims of the program are to provide a basic leadership training programme adapted for ophthalmology. To enhance advocacy issues in a European perspective, to promote ophthalmology and the SOE in general, to identify future leaders in European ophthalmology and provide them with an informal network of peers and to create a forum to enhance collaboration with the AAO and PAAO.

The eighth  EuLDP class of 2023/25 commenced during SOE 2023 Congress. The class includes  19  participants from 19 countries. A three-day working module was be  held in April 2024 at Jesus College, Cambridge UK. A further working module will be held in conjunction with the leadership development programmes of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology in San Francisco in January 2025. Graduation of the class will be at the SOE 2025 Congress in Lisbon. Details of past EuLDP participant’s projects and the programme can be found on the following SOE webpage .


The Board of SOE offers a number of grants for ophthalmologists in-training from Eastern European countries to visit Ophthalmic Centres in Europe. At present, the grant is fixed at 500 EUR and it is envisaged that the successful applicants will spend a minimum of four to six weeks observing clinical work in a European Centre. The SOE Board has compiled a list of centres, which accept observers, and of the subspecialties they offer. The number of Educational Grants is limited per year to two or three applicants from each Eastern European country (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, F. Y. R. Macedonia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Poland, Roumania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine).


SOE wishes to strengthen links among teachers across Europe and their teaching institutions. To stimulate these links, SOE offers  a number of grants for applicants from teachers in active residency training roles in the institutions of Eastern Europe. The programme is intended either as a two or four week visit to one of the teaching centres on the SOE list. SOE only supports educators that are actively involved with residency training either in university hospitals, county teaching hospitals or in private settings with formal residency education programmes. SOE will support the successful candidates with a stipend of 500 EUR. It is up to the applicant to make a choice based on their availability and agreements with the centre they wish to visit.


Applications for 2025 grants is open until September 2024. Please note that only online applications will be considered. Please visit the Society website at for further information.


Founded in 1968 this gold medal is awarded every four years to the European ophthalmologist who has done most for the Society and for ophthalmology. The Medal is named after the great 19th century scientist Hermann von Helmholtz. The Helmholtz Medal has previously been awarded to:

J. François, Belgium

R. Kloti, Switzerland

J. Charamis, Greece

M. Radnot, Hungary

B.Streiff, Switzerland

F. Fankhauser, Switzerland

H. Henkes, The Netherlands

G. Scuderi, Italy

N. Ehlers, Denmark

L.Missotten, Belgium

J.Cunha-Vaz, Portugal

G. van Rij, The Netherlands

Z. Gregor, United Kingdom.


The Charamis Medal is given by the Hellenic Ophthalmological Society. It is awarded by the SOE Board every four years to a European ophthalmologist for the greatest achievement in the field of ophthalmic surgery. The Charamis Medal has previously been awarded to:

J. François, Belgium

R. Kloti, Switzerland

C.D. Binkhorst , The Netherlands

J.D. Scott, United Kingdom

G. Meyer-Schwickerath, Germany

G.O.H. Naumann, Germany

G.P. Theodossiadis, Greece

R. Zivojnovic, The Netherlands

Y. Pouliquen, France

R. Collin, United Kingdom

I. Pallikaris, Greece

K. Barton, UK


The Henkes Medal for Leadership in Ophthalmology, which is given by the Professor Dr Harold Henkes Foundation, was presented for the first time at SOE 2013 to Professor Luc Missotten, Belgium. The Henkes Medal will also be awarded every four years to an ophthalmologist for the greatest achievements in the field of leadership in ophthalmology.

2013 L Missotten, Belgium

2017 B. Philipson, Sweden


Awarded by ICO, the Mark Tso Golden Apple Award recognises innovation and leadership in education in the region and emphasises the importance and value of ophthalmic education.

The Award was presented to Wagih Aclimandos, UK, during the Opening Ceremony of SOE 2017.


At the 2005 SOE Board meeting, it was agreed that each National Ophthalmic Society would select the most promising clinician/researcher under the age of 45 to give the SOE Lecture at a prominent point of their annual Congress. During 2015, 14 lectures were held and it is hoped to increase this number in 2016 and the years to come. The SOE Lecturers are awarded a diploma and voucher for the forthcoming SOE Congress. The voucher entitles the participant to a complimentary registration to the forthcoming SOE Congress and is awarded by the Society.


Further information is available from:

SOE Secretariat