From 3 September 2012, ICEE will be known as the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation to celebrate its long-standing partnership with the Brien Holden Vision Institute, its founding supporter and partner, and eye health and vision care research non-profit organisation. By aligning the two organisations, the Foundation and Institute will work closely to harness their networks, expertise and resources, and together, achieve much more.
The two have a shared history and will now share one name and pursue one common purpose. We jointly believe that the best possible vision is the right of everyone, everywhere. Together we aim to drive, collaborate, innovate, educate, advocate and negotiate what is needed so that hundreds of millions, even billions, of people worldwide can enjoy the right to sight. Whether its development of new technology to slow the development of myopia or diagnose disease, delivery of sustainable access to services or provision of eye care education in the most marginalised and remote communities in the world, the two organisations are focused on the quality of vision people experience and equity in eye care access worldwide.
The Foundation began with the concern of the Institute for the devastating shortfall in eye care education in developing communities, especially around refractive error and its significance. Educational resources were scarce and in many countries, non-existent. This lack of training institutes and educational opportunities was creating a critical human resource gap in eye care.
Research in the late 1990s revealed that hundreds of millions of people across all countries were unnecessarily vision impaired or blind because they didn’t have access to an eye examination and a pair of glasses1 2. Sadly, a decade later and thanks to more research, we know that number is in excess of 640 million people (123 million3 with distance vision impairment and 517 million4 with near vision impairment). We also know that the cost to the global economy in lost productivity for distance vision alone, is a staggering I$269 billion each year5. This does not include the cost of vision loss related to uncorrected near vision impairment (517million people).4
The Institute began nearly 30 years ago in Australia and quickly both recruited and linked with some of the best researchers in the world to create new and better ways to correct the most common eye conditions – myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia. Its research focus on new technologies including contact lenses, glasses and surgical products resulted in successful translation and commercialisation of advanced products. The success enabled reinvestment in more breakthrough research programs, postgraduate education and revenue for the Foundation to develop programs and models of vision care and to up-scale education for developing communities worldwide.
With an urgent development agenda targeting uncorrected refractive error, the Foundation grew quickly – initially with nodes in South Africa, Australia, the Philippines, India and Indonesia. Establishing relationships with organisations such as AusAID, Optometry Giving Sight, Standard Chartered Bank ‘Seeing is Believing’ and other generous donors, the Foundation has worked in more than 54 countries. Currently there are 13 head offices, 429 vision centre sites and locations and three schools of optometry in Africa that the Foundation has set up or supports. Additionally its teaching programs have reached some 57 schools, 1652 professional educators and 39 258 eye care personnel.
All Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation activities are designed to facilitate the establishment of permanent eye care services throughout the world, by helping to equip communities with the necessary skills and resources to develop the infrastructure and human resources appropriate for sustainable growth. Importantly, in a period when translation research is being identified as a priority, the alignment of the two organisations will enhance the Foundation capacity to mobilise appropriate research skills to advance our evidence-based public health agenda.
From September you can find out more about the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation by going to: www.brienholdenvision.org
1. Dandona L et al. Burden of moderate visual impairment in an urban population in southern India, Ophthalmology 1999;106: 487–504. 2. Taylor HR et al, Visual impairment in Australia: distance visual acuity, near vision, and visual field findings of the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project. Am J Ophthalmol, 1997;123: 328–337. 3. Pascolini D, Mariotti SP. Global estimates of visual impairment: 2010. British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2011. 4. Holden B A, Fricke T R, Ho SM, Wong R, Schlenther G, Cronjé S, Burnett A, Papas E, Naidoo, K S, Frick KD. Global Vision Impairment Due to Uncorrected Presbyopia, Arch of Ophthalmol, Vol 126 (No. 12), Dec 2008. 5. Smith TST, Frick KD, Holden BA, Fricke TR, Naidoo KS, Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of uncorrected refractive error, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2009; 87.