Eye care leader wins world award at WCO


In optometry there are few global accolades and Professor Brien Holden has just about won them all, but the vision correction researcher, educator, innovator and entrepreneur for eye care solutions globally, joined an elite group in the optometry field today when the World Council of Optometry (WCO) acknowledged him with its Distinguished Service Award – their highest honour. A pioneer in contact lens development and eye health, and now a global leader of efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision impairment, Holden is only the sixth to receive the award.

In a career of over 40 years Holden’s impact has been remarkable – creating a social enterprise that has generated over $1 billion in research, education and humanitarian funds to create advanced vision correction products and provide quality vision care to people in need.

Along the way he has been a leader in eye care research and product development, been at the forefront of global efforts to provide quality eye care services for the hundreds of millions that don’t have access, provided postgraduate opportunities for close to 200 young researchers from around the globe, and been heavily involved in the development of the optometry profession in countries lacking comprehensive eye care services.

Recently Holden’s vision has expanded beyond eye care to broader health goals, including the current development of a breakthrough retinal camera – bringing together partners from Africa, China, India, the U.S. and Australia – to provide advanced detection and eventually diagnosis, of blinding eye diseases and other health conditions such as diabetes. The camera is intended to bring affordable detection and diagnosis to health care personnel in a range of settings, especially remote and regional areas that experience high rates of undetected eye disease.

Holden acknowledged the opportunities in life optometry had afforded him in thanking the WCO for the acknowledgement. “Optometry is a wonderful profession, it has the capacity to do immense good for the billions of people who need eye care, especially to those in need and the World Council of Optometry is its guardian, strategic leader and conscience,” he said.

“When one is recognised with such a prestigious award, it is received in the knowledge that optometry and my fellow optometrists have offered me, my professional life and access to research, education, the student experience, public health and innovation.

“I have been very fortunate to have worked with some of the best in optometry, whose efforts and passion are indeed inspiring; Professors Kovin Naidoo, Earl Smith and Brian Layland are but three of them. My colleagues at the Brien Holden Vision Institute and Vision CRC are also responsible for anything I have been able to do.”

The WCO annual meeting, which brings the world’s professionals together, coincides with several major regional events in Malaga this year from 18-21 April – the European Academy of Optometry and Optics, European Council of Optometry and Optics and Spanish General Council of Optometry meetings.


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