Outstanding service to eye health recognised in Australia Day honours FB Twitter LinkedIn

Outstanding service to eye health recognised in Australia Day honours

Professor Bob Augusteyn AM

Sydney, Australia, 26 January 2019:  Brien Holden Vision Institute congratulates Prof Bob Augusteyn, a world authority on lens and eye growth, and Dr Timothy McKinnon, a tireless proponent for increasing optometry services in the Pacific region, who were announced as a Members of the Order of Australia (AM) today.

Prof Augusteyn was recognised for his significant service to vision science and eye health research and Dr McKinnon was acknowledged for his significant services to both his community and international eye care programs in the Pacific and Australia.

Professor Bob Augusteyn

Augusteyn's contributions, particularly in scientific understanding of the crystalline lens, has spanned over half a century, and involved research, teaching, administration and community activities, both in Australia and internationally.

He was the first Australian scientist to undertake laboratory vision research and he is an internationally acknowledged pioneer in research into cataracts, lens proteins, lens growth and biometry. He has characterised the growth patterns in over 150 species from the analysis of over 10,000 lenses.

Many of his studies dispelled prevailing myths about cataracts and led the way to other mechanistic studies. His demonstration that oxidation was a major factor in age-related cataract was pioneering and has been widely credited for stimulating the subsequent worldwide explosion of research in this area.

He was appointed by the USA National Institutes of Health in 1978 to report on the effectiveness of their cataract research programme and to identify future avenues for support. In 2015, Prof Augusteyn was awarded the Kinoshita Prize for lens research from the National Foundation for Eye Research, USA, the highest recognition given for lens research.

Prof Augusteyn's contribution to vision science has extended beyond the lens. While Director of the National Vision Research Institute of Australia (1991-2001), he established programmes for molecular biology research on the retina and retinal disease. He also introduced tests for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in Irish Setters and tested virtually every pure bred Setter in Australia. This was of enormous value to breeders of Irish Setters since the tests identified animals carrying the gene for PRA and helped eliminate the defect through selective breeding.

Prof Augusteyn was one of the original team which established the Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology (later, the Vision CRC), the most successful of all CRCs, and continues to collaborate with partners from the CRCs like Brien Holden Vision Institute, LV Prasad Eye Institute and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute on projects aimed at combatting presbyopia.

Prof Augusteyn is currently a Voluntary Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Miami (the #1 ophthalmology centre in the USA) – the first time such an appointment had been made – and also a Visiting Professor at University of New South Wales and an Honorary Senior Research Associate at La Trobe University and University of Melbourne.

Dr Timothy McKinnon

Professor Brien Holden OAM, Dr Tim McKinnon AM, Professor Brian Layland OAM

Dr Timothy McKinnon, retired optometrist from Moss Vale has been honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia, listed in this Australia Day honours for his outstanding service and life-long commitment to increasing optometric care within the Pacific region.

A long-standing Southern Highlands resident and active community participant, Tim is a former President of Southern Highlands Golf Club and a committed member of the Rotary club for that area. He has supported countless initiatives to raise money for eye care needs for the Pacific region, some of which were supported by Brien Holden Vision Institute and Optometry Giving Sight.

The Moss Vale optometrist opened his practice in the 1970s after discovering there were no practicing optometrists operating between Goulburn and Picton.

In 1982, Tim lead a team of six optometrists who donated their time and skills to assist in an initiative funded by the Optometry Australia to increase access to eye care for the Pacific region, specifically West Samoa, where little optometry services had previously reached.

Later in the nineties Tim and another Australian optometrist, Neil Craddock, represented the Institute in providing eye care services which was funded by the International Diabetes Foundation, to assist in research supporting development of much needed eye care services in the Pacific island nations of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. These studies helped build some of the eye health infrastructure currently operating for diabetic patients in these countries.

In more recent years, since Dr McKinnon retired and sold his practice, he has volunteered as a visiting optometrist working within the Aboriginal Vision Program implemented by Brien Holden Vision Institute and partners. Locations he has visited include rural and remote areas of NSW such as Brewarrina, Coonamble and Walgett.

Professor Brian Layland, OAM, OLM Fellow at UNSW and Patron of Brien Holden Vision Institute spoke very highly of the awardee. “I am extremely pleased that this year’s honorary role has awarded Tim McKinnon with the long overdue recognition for his life-long dedication to advancing optometry services, particularly in the Pacific. We congratulate Tim on his recognition and thank him for all the hard work he has provided over the years for optometry.”