The eponymous Brien Holden has been sharing his vision for more than 40 years with just about anyone who would listen. Those who did listen make an interesting list - they include governments, presidents, prime ministers, royalty, the World Health Organization, the who’s who of optometry and ophthalmology and a list of institutions and universities that would be the envy of the most ambitious amongst us.
So, it should come as no surprise that after a lifetime of commitment to ‘vision excellence for all’, the Institute named after the great man himself, is standing by him again and getting even more serious. To be clear, this isn’t just on behalf of one inspirational man, quite the contrary, but a collective vision for everyone...everywhere.
To tip the scales in the direction the Institute needs to go, after 14 years, the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) is changing its name. ICEE, in September 2012, has joined the ranks of the Institute, standing shoulder to shoulder as the Public Health Division of the Brien Holden Vision Institute.
Surely, the two organisations could get on with the job without changing names, one would think, and rightly so. Surely their expanded scope is achievable just by working as they have for more than a decade and a half?
The answer to that question is simpler than it might appear. To help provide quality of vision and equitable access to eye care worldwide, a task inconceivable to most, the two will need to share more than just a name and a common purpose; their vision will have to reach hundreds of millions and be shared by all.
The two organisations taking a step closer is not an enormous stretch of the imagination. The Institute was the founder of ICEE and since then the two have shared a head office in Sydney, Australia, and a CEO. Every step of the way the Institute provided funds, in kind support of every description, ethics, commitment and drive that have been met, matched and amplified by ICEE.
So now, more than ever, the resources of the Institute will be shared with the public health division of the Institute – valuable, highly specialised and qualified resources from the Institute will work on new technology initiatives to develop products and services that make quality vision available not just at optometry and ophthalmology clinics but in more remote and less traditional settings where marginalised communities most need them.
Epidemiologists, optometrists, researchers, experienced public health professionals and seasoned program teams with specific regional experience will work together to research and refine appropriate pathways for the provision of care in remote and rural communities and feed back to the Institute to help develop better products and services to reach even more people.
Valuable resources will be lent by each organisation to the other to help develop better education not just for the next generation of scientist, ocular surfaces specialist, biostatisticians, engineers, public health professionals (and the list goes on) but to further develop resources online and in the field so that hundreds of thousands of practitioners throughout the world can have access to the latest and best education possible and thereby provide more services to 640 million people still in need of eye care and without access.
The common purpose will be rolled out in every location that the Institute works; in China where technology research, education and public health are already working hand in hand; in India where public health is working with education to support the India Vision Institute and researchers moving ahead with more translational research projects for the next generation of products for India and beyond; and in 13 offices, three optometry schools and more than 430 clinics around the world where research is bringing vital information back to inform future program planning and better technology development to improve the vision of everyone...everywhere.
So why change names to achieve all that? Here is where it gets simple. Knitting hundreds of people, thousands of kilometres apart together and sharing that same vision with the whole world in order to produce an unimaginable goal takes a lot of motivation and commitment. Blending and bending to achieve such an ambitious goal is something the Brien Holden Vision Institute is not just aiming for, but capable of achieving. And, just quietly, that’s a vision Brien Holden is looking forward to seeing.
Global Communications Director