21 April 2013
Photo: Professor Brien Holden and Dr Jillia Bird
The World Council of Optometry (WCO) announced the winners of its international optometry awards at a ceremony in Malaga, Spain (Saturday 20 April).
Professor Brien Holden (Australia) was named winner of the Distinguished Service Award while Dr Jillia Bird (Antigua) picked up the International Optometrist Award.
Distinguished Service Award
On nominating Professor Holden for his award, Professor Kovin Naidoo (South Africa), said: “For more than 40 years, Brien’s vision and dedication to optometry has been unfaltering. His leadership has led to major breakthroughs in scientific knowledge and the development of devices for vision correction; as well as significant advances in the fight against avoidable blindness and vision impairment worldwide.”
On receiving the award, Professor Holden said: "Optometry is a wonderful profession, it has the capacity to do immense good for the billions of people who need eye care, especially for those in need, and the World Council of Optometry is its guardian, strategic leader and conscience.
“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, innovation and the great good optometry does for those who are denied access.
“I thank the World Council of Optometry for the recognition they have afforded me and optometry for the opportunity I have had to experience the best this world has to offer by way of dedication to and concern for the welfare of all people, everywhere."
International Optometrist Award
Dr Jillia Bird was nominated for the International Optometrist Award by the Trinidad and Tobago Optometrists’ Association for her outstanding work in raising awareness of glaucoma in the Caribbean. Her family’s history of preventable vision impairment has fuelled her passion for blindness prevention.
Nigel St Rose, nominating, said: “In 2007, Jillia founded the Antigua and Barbuda Glaucoma Support Group, a thriving patient support and advocacy group. The group successfully lobbied the Antigua’s government to recognise the public health threat that glaucoma poses to its predominantly African-origin population. Jillia has also been elected President of the World Glaucoma Association.”
Dr Bird commented: “I am deeply humbled to be chosen by the WCO for this prestigious award. Sight is by far our most precious sense. Each of us holds the potential to raise the world's awareness of avoidable blindness, and in doing so, reduce the current unacceptable global blindness burden.”
On announcing the awards, WCO’s outgoing President, Tone Garaas-Maurdalen, said “These awards recognise individuals’ outstanding contribution to the development of the profession, and to the community. We were so impressed by the calibre of nominees, and excited to hear about the fantastic work these individuals carry out.
“I would like to thank everyone who sent in a nomination form, and thank all of those who were nominated for the work they do, and the difference they are making to thousands of lives of people around the world.
“Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations go to Brien and Jillia.”