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HomeminewsOptometric Vision Research Foundation Turns 40

Optometric Vision Research Foundation Turns 40

The Optometric Vision Research Foundation (OVRF) has celebrated 40 years of service.

Launched in 1973 by Professors Brien Holden and Brian Layland, the OVRF has funded optometric research at the School of Optometry, University of New South Wales (UNSW) that has laid the foundations for some of the most significant developments in optometry. Ground-breaking innovations, including silicone hydrogel contact lenses, and bifocal contact lenses have changed the eye care landscape, improving vision, and therefore lives of millions of people around the world. The group also introduced a 50 cent levy on the sale of contact lenses, which became the biggest resource producer for optometry and the contact lens manufacturing industry.

Professor Brien Holden said the work of Steve Zantos, who was the first OVRF PhD student continues today. “Steve’s discovery of epithelial changes in response to changes in the atmosphere in front of the eye was a new finding for corneal physiology that stirred an amazing amount of interest in the research that we were conducting. It was the start of a forty year journey that continues today.”

Professor Zantos went on to become a Professor of Clinical Optometry at UNSW, a past-president of the Contact Lens Society of Australia and the NSW OAA and currently works as the Optometry Services Manger at the Vision Eye Institute in Sydney.

Ground-breaking innovations including silicone hydrogel contact lenses and bifocal contact lenses have changed the eye care landscape

The OVRF continues to recognise research excellence and contributions made to the profession through two awards. The Maki Schiobara scholarship, established in 2004 in collaboration with the UNSW Foundation, celebrates optometric research and is offered each year to optometry students at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at UNSW. The Lloyd Hewett Award and Medal, established in 1993 to honour the remarkable contributions of Lloyd Hewett to the profession, is awarded to practising optometrists who have made a major contribution to the profession and community through scholarship, knowledge, education and clinical excellence. Professor Brian Layland is the latest recipient of this award.

The OVRF has been instrumental in organisations such as the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit at UNSW; International Association for Contact Lens Education; Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology; VisionCare NSW; Brien Holden Vision Institute (formerly the Institute for Eye Research); Brien Holden Vision Institute public health division (formerly the International Centre for Eyecare Education); and Vision Cooperative Research Centre.