A Lifetime of Vision

Our CEO and founder, Professor Brien Holden passed away on 27 July 2015. His passion and generosity was legendary. In a remarkable career, Professor Holden became a global leader in eye care and vision research, internationally renowned and awarded scientist and humanitarian who believed in vision for everyone…everywhere.

Professor of Optometry at UNSW Australia and CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Professor Holden was the driver behind a social enterprise that educated over 180 PhD students, raised over $1.3 billion in research, education and humanitarian funds.

Over time these outcomes helped initiate the global campaign to eliminate blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error and developed products that have generated over $26 billion in sales for industry and over $300 million in royalties for partner institutions. The Brien Holden Vision Institute is now the largest and most productive vision (correction) research centre in the world.

Nearly all those worldwide who wear contact lenses, have directly benefited from his research efforts, including co-developing silicone hydrogel contact lenses, the most popular contact lens material.

To address uncorrected refractive error, the Brien Holden Vision Institute has delivered eye care services to more than 14 million people in over 60 countries; established over 400 vision centres or sites for eye care worldwide; and trained over 250,000 personnel around the world.

To know the eye care profession, you must know about Professor Brien Holden.

Can myopia be permanently altered by reshaping the cornea?

In 1966, there was a burning research question: “Can myopia be permanently altered by reshaping the cornea?” Brien Holden had been accepted into the City University London as their first PhD student in optometry. Five years later, Brien completed his PhD entitled, ‘A study of the development and control of myopia and the effects of contact lenses on corneal topography.’ He returned to Australia accepting the position of Lecturer at UNSW which proved to be an incredibly fertile research and educational environment in the early 1970s.

Cornea Contact Lens Research Unit (1984)

In 1976, Brien established the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit (CCLRU) which went on to become a major global research centre, spawning an unparalleled succession of organisations which would influence the shape of the contact lens industry long into the future of eye care.

Impact of Myopia Research (2003)

Brien Holden’s ambition to increase awareness of the threat of myopia and to develop treatments to prevent people from reaching high levels of myopia, was no secret. In 2003, he established the Vision Cooperative Research Centre with the development of myopia control devices as a major focus.

National Press Conference (2005)

Approximately 80% of what a child learns is processed through the visual system. Tragically, millions of children around the world are vision impaired simply because they can’t access an eye examination and appropriate glasses. Their learning and social development suffers, and, ultimately, their prospects in life.

Asia Business Interview on Myopia (2014)

Prof. Brien Holden speaks with Asia Business News on the rising prevalence of myopia and slowing the progression. “This profession stands at the threshold of addressing what is fast becoming one of the biggest public health crisis that the modern world has faced and it’s unique as it affects both the developed and the developing world."

Remembering Brien Holden

Professor Brien Holden’s passion and generosity was legendary. In his remarkable career, Brien Holden became a global leader in eye care and vision research, internationally renowned and awarded scientist and humanitarian who believed in vision for everyone…everywhere.

His own words are well remembered:

“I hope to leave the lasting legacy of an institution that is creative, productive, self-sustainable, generates ideas and delivers massively on the whole issue of how to see better and how to deliver to people everywhere the vision that they need: An Institute that has the resources to chase the goals of vision for everyone, everywhere.”