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HomeminewsHonours Create a Platform for Eye Health Promotion

Honours Create a Platform for Eye Health Promotion

Dr Sandra Staffieri AO with a young patient. Image by Anna Carlile, courtesy CERA.

“Overwhelmed and incredibly humbled” by being awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours, Dr Sandra Staffieri AO hopes the honour will provide a “massive megaphone, a soapbox to promote children’s eye health”.

“Children’s eye health is at the core of everything I do, everything I have done,” Dr Staffieri told mivision. “As a clinician all you ever want to do is to make a difference and to realise that actually maybe I have, is quite rewarding.

As a clinician all you ever want to do is to make a difference and to realise that actually maybe I have, is quite rewarding

“The day I found out I had been nominated I was about to walk into theatre. We were looking after a child with suspected retinoblastoma so there was a huge contradiction of feelings.

“It has been really hard to advocate for children’s eye health. It is hard to get people’s attention, to have it high on the agenda. Hopefully, (this recognition) can help open the dialogue with the people who make the decisions around what is important to promote.

Dr Staffieri received her award for distinguished service to medicine as an orthoptist and vision researcher, and to paediatric ophthalmology. She is a Research Fellow at Centre for Eye Research Australia and the Retinoblastoma Care Coordinator/Senior Clinical Orthoptist at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Victoria.

Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton AO

Similarly awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) was Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton AO.

Prof Stapleton was honoured for distinguished service to optometry as a researcher, mentor, and role model to tertiary education, and to national and international organisations.

Prof Stapleton, from the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales, is a clinical scientist with expertise in epidemiology, basic and clinical research in the fields of corneal infection, dry eye, and contact lens related disease.

She holds numerous memberships and executive affiliations with scientific organisations, is a regular reviewer for a range of journals, belongs to the international editorial board of three journals, has more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, has contributed 20 chapters to textbooks, and published a book.

She is currently President of the International Society for Contact Lens Research and is Academic Lead of the Sage Athena Swan initiative at UNSW. She was awarded Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science and Technology in 2018.

Distinguished Service

The King’s Birthday 2023 Honours List recognized and celebrated 1,192 recipients, including awards in the Order of Australia (General and Military Divisions), meritorious awards, and recognition for distinguished and conspicuous service. The eye health sector was well represented.

Members of the Order of Australia (AM) were awarded to:

• The late Richard Grills,

• Clinical Associate Professor Andrew Chang,

• Distinguished Professor Justine Ruth Smith, and

• Conjoint Professor Arthur Ho.

Clinical Associate Professor Andrew Chang AM said he was “most humbled” to be recognised for significant service to ophthalmology and retinal surgery as a clinician and educator.

Assoc Prof Chang holds his academic appointment at The University of Sydney. He is a consultant ophthalmologist and the Head of Ophthalmology at the Sydney Eye Hospital, and the Medical Director of Sydney Retina Clinic and Day Surgery.

He said it was a “privilege to join eye care professionals and teams who dedicate their lives to preserve sight and prevent blindness in our patients”.

“There is still much work to be done in addressing communities with unmet needs of eye care including remote, regional, and Indigenous communities.

“It is exciting to work in the ecosystem of rapidly changing and developing technologic innovations, which will allow us to treat more eye diseases more effectively,” Assoc Prof Chang said.

He said it was also “very rewarding to be involved in training the next generation of eye surgeons and researchers in vision science…Australia has an important influence in collaborating with our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region to promote education, research, and advocacy,” Assoc Prof Chang said.

Posthumous Recognition

The late Richard Grills AM was recognized posthumously for significant service to ophthalmology and retinal surgery as a clinician and educator. Mr Grills, who died last year, founded Designs for Vision. He was a Director of the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA), having previously served as its Chair for 10 years, a Director of both the Genetic Eye Foundation and the Macular Disease Foundation Australia since their inceptions, and the Chair of the former Essilor Vision Foundation. He was also a member of the Visiting Advisory Board at both UNSW Optometry School and UTS Orthoptic School.

Commenting on the honour, ODMA Chief Executive Officer Amanda Trotman said the organisation was “so proud of Richard… as he truly was an honourable individual”.

“All of us would have loved for Richard to have enjoyed hearing this news himself as it did sadly take some time for the process of this honour to come to fruition since its nomination,” she said.

Distinguished Professor Justine Ruth Smith AM was honoured for significant service to ophthalmology, particularly research and education. Prof Smith is a Research Strategic Professor at Flinders University, Principal Research Fellow at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, and Chair of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis.

An internationally recognised expert in the causes, effects, and treatment of uveitis, her work extends to infection by parasites and viruses, and ocular cancers.

Conjoint Professor Arthur Ho AM was honoured for significant service to optometry as a researcher, designer, and educator. Currently the Chief Scientist Innovation Officer at the Brien Holden Vision Institute Limited, in addition to an appointment as Visiting Professorial Fellow at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, Prof Ho holds academic appointments at the University of Miami in the United States.

Professor Ho’s current research focus is on myopia and presbyopia and particularly in understanding the opto-mechanical characteristics of the accommodation system and developing vision correction systems for controlling myopia progression.

Medal of the Order of Australia

Dr Brett O’Donnell received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Dr O’Donnell OAM was recognised for service to ophthalmology. He is an oculoplastic cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon, dealing exclusively with conditions of the eyelids, tear ducts, and tumours around the eyes.

He practises out of public and private hospitals in Sydney.