50 years in optometry, 40 years of innovation – Professor Brien Holden

Sydney, Australia, 11 March 2014: Since its humble beginnings in 1973, starting with the establishment of the Optometric Vision Research Foundation, Brien Holden Vision Institute has been at the forefront of vision technology, contributing to some of the most innovative advances that have shaped the optometric landscape.For those unaware, the Institute is the largest and most productive applied vision (correction) research centre in the world and its products have generated over $30 billion in sales for the industry.

Over the last 40 years, from the development of the first toric soft lenses in the 70s to cutting-edge research that led to high oxygen permeable lenses, the Institute has a rich history of innovation and can be proud to say, “we did that”, always acknowledging its many valuable partners of course.

Revolutions in technology, science, and medicine transformed the way people lived in the 20th century and the 1970’s, in particular, was a key decade. From the first Intel Microprocessor, the development of the mobile phone to the creation of the first chicken pox and pneumonia vaccines, it’s difficult to imagine where we would be without these important technologies. For around half of all contact lens wearers worldwide, the same can be said for silicone hydrogel lenses.

The year 1973 marked the beginning of global collaborations and breakthrough vision correction technologies for the Institute – technologies that would change the future of eye care. In a busy decade, Brien Holden and colleagues were involved in the following product developments and research breakthroughs:

  • 1972 – Comfortable, well performing daily wear hydrogel spherical and toric lens (Zero 6 Hydron)
  • 1973 – Endothelial response to contact lens wear
  • 1975 – Extended wear soft lenses, co-designed Permalens and Permaflex extended wear soft contact lenses

In the 80s…

  • 1983 –The first centre distance and centre near soft bifocal combination for treating presbyopia with concentric bifocal contact lenses (CooperVision)
  • 1985 to 1994 – Saw methods develop for the definition of the oxygen needs of the eye, methods of using and screening extended wear lenses which led to high Dk Silicone Hydrogel lenses, (CIBA VISION, Bausch & Lomb).

And more…

  • 1998 – The silicone hydrogel invention, released initially by CIBA VISION as the Focus® Night and DayTM contact lens, now accounts for more than 50% of soft contact lens sales globally.
  • 2002 – Soft toric contact lenses design for the correction of astigmatism were successfully launched as the Biomedics Toric and later as the Biofinity and Aviara toric lenses.
  • 2009 – Collaboration with CIBA VISION resulted in the AIR OPTIXTM AQUA MULTIFOCAL contact lenses for correction of presbyopia which is now the largest selling multifocal in the US today.
  • 2010 – MyoVisionTM spectacle lens was released by Institute partner, Carl Zeiss Vision. The spectacle lens was found to slow the progression of myopia by 30% in children with at least one myopic parent.


In July, we celebrate the life of our late CEO Prof. Brien Holden and how his contributions have
shaped the optometric landscape. For more on his lifetime of vision, click logo below.


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