Australian Professor receives prestigious honour from University of Houston


An Australian Professor who has been at the forefront of vision correction research for more than four decades has received the University of Houston’s highest honour. Professor Brien Holden, “the most influential optometrist of our generation”, according to world authority on myopia research, Professor Earl Smith III, has been acknowledged through the award of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Commenting on the award, Professor Smith, Dean of the College of Optometry at the University said, “From our College’s perspective, honorary doctorates are very special and are reserved for individuals who have made truly significant and lasting contributions to our profession.”

The degree was presented to Professor Holden, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, for his exceptional career in the field of optometry, his academic research and humanitarian accomplishments.

Holden’s research focus has been in the area of vision correction and ocular health, in particular with contact lenses, spectacles and surgery. He has been a driving force behind the development of a number of lens products. Most notably, the creation of the third generation of soft contact lenses to correct astigmatism and the co-developer of the breakthrough highly oxygen permeable silicone hydrogel lenses which have revolutionised the contact lens industry.

“Since its inception, our college has awarded only one other honorary doctorate,” added Smith. “The previous recipient was the late Dr Irvin M. Borish, who was widely recognised in the USA as the Optometrist of the 20th Century. In my view, Professor Holden is in the same class with Dr Borish and is, from a global perspective, the most influential optometrist of our generation.”

His humanitarian efforts have been integral to the creation of organisations helping build sustainable eye care systems in developing communities, including the International Centre for Eyecare Education, where he serves as CEO and Optometry Giving Sight, of which he is Executive Chair. Under Holdens direction the Brien Holden Vision Institute was a founding partner and continues to be a major contributor to these organisations.

“I am extremely honoured to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Houston and am humbled to be the second such awardee to the legendary Dr Irvin M. Borish,” said Professor Holden.

Holdens' close ties with the University have nurtured numerous collaborations between the university and Brien Holden Vision Institute, which have so far led to a major development in treatments for myopia and further investment in research facilities to tackle the global myopia 'epidemic'.

“University of Houston has developed one the world’s outstanding Schools of Optometry and its faculty’s Vision Science and Eye Health scientific achievements have been both seminal and of global importance,” added Holden. “I am also delighted to have been able to work with the Myopia Research Group at Houston whose work is second to none and in every aspect of that work; the outcome has been both rigorous basic science and valuable translational research.”

Brien Holden has also made a strong contribution to global initiatives to address avoidable blindness and vision impairment through his involvement with the peak global bodies – the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and the World Health Organization's Refractive Error Working Group.


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