A great man. An incredible legacy.

Remembering Professor Brien Holden OAM

By: Courtenay Holden, Marketing and Communications Manager, Our Children's Vision and James Wondrasek

What was so incredible about Professor Holden was that he could see a problem, identify and activate all the pieces necessary to achieve the solution. Today we remember the remarkable man and his lasting work.

“Every seven-year-old, when going to school, should take along a certificate from their optometrist saying, ‘I’ve had my eyes examined, I’m ok, I can see.’”

This was part of Prof. Brien Holden’s vision. It sounds simple, but it conceals a complex and coordinated undertaking that is international in scale.

The global crisis is the sudden jump in myopia in children, often left undiagnosed and untreated, and the impact this will have on a child’s quality of life, and future economic prosperity and productivity.

Brien, in his wisdom, realized that the first step to tackling a problem was to understand the scale of it.  He led a global research team to identify that if nothing was done soon, half of the world’s population would be myopic by 2050.

We can slow down this trend if we reach children while their eyes are still developing, and Brien realized that to do that at the scale required, we would need a major shift in how we approached the problem.  And so the idea of Our Children’s Vision was born.  A campaign to bring together governments, practitioners, hospitals, donors, not-for-profits, businesses and communities to ensure that millions of children around the world would have access to eye exams and the care they need.   

What was so incredible about Brien was that he could see a problem, identify and activate all the pieces necessary to achieve the solution.

For almost 50 years Prof. Holden worked to help others. The research he led, and the organisations he founded have improved the vision and the quality of life for tens of millions around the world.

Prof. Holden presented to the World Health Organization with proof of the global myopia crisis in an effort to persuade them to make it a priority. He then went on to inspire Our Children’s Vision with its challenging but achievable goal of providing eye care to 50 million children by 2020.

It is a massive undertaking. It faces logistical and cultural challenges. Prof. Holden, through his experience and successes in establishing eye clinics in developing and rural economies, recognised that it would require a global partnership. Screening tens of millions requires tens of thousands of eye care personnel, drawn from the populations they are screening, working sustainably and sensitively for years to come. They need to be found and trained.

More work needs to be done. Prof. Holden laid the foundation, we, his associates, partners and friends, carry on the important work.

Time is short and 2020 is approaching rapidly. As Brien famously said, “Every seven-year-old, when going to school, should take along a certificate from their optometrist saying, ‘I’ve had my eyes examined, I’m ok, I can see.’”

For more information about Prof Holden, his work and legacy visit www.brienholdenvision.org

 

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