A tribute to the eternal Optometry legend
Prof Brien Holden
28 July 2015, Sydney
Professor Brien Holden
With much sadness, we received news this morning of the death of the Optometry Legend, Prof Brien Holden. Most of the ALO team members are still in shock and are unable to digest the demise of a great personality who has been the reason for their career prosperity.
Prof Brien Holden is a world leader in eye health and vision correction research, education and public health. He is a Professor at the University of New South Wales, a founder and the CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute and author of over 200 refereed research papers and 400 refereed scientific abstracts.
Prof Holden efforts have been highly commended, he has been awarded seven honorary doctorates from universities in the US, Europe and Africa and most recently in 2012, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Houston.
Prof Holden worked closely with India and his association began more than 35 years ago through a friendship with Dr Gullapalli Nageshwar Rao. He was instrumental in facilitating a close working relationship between Australia and India, through his involvement in the Australia-India Council which led to a collaboration of Indian and international optometry leaders for the implementation of the necessary regulatory, infrastructure and education change to transform the eye care landscape in India. To date, these organisations include the Indian Optometry Federation, India Vision Institute (joint initiative of the Brien Holden Vision Institute and LVPEI) and the Optometry Council of India.
Prof Holden has also made a strong contribution to global initiatives to address avoidable blindness and vision impairment through his involvement with the peak global bodies - the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Refractive Error Working Group. Along with Dr G.N. Rao and Dr Serge Resnikoff, he was the main representatives for refractive error to be recognized as the key theme for Vision 2020, the global initiative of the IAPB and WHO to eliminate avoidable blindness.
His humility and commitment to creating access to eye health and eye care profession for all will always be remembered!
On behalf of ALO, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Prof Holden. Rest in Peace!
His inspirational personality is reflective of the responses we have been receiving following Brien's demise. Please feel free to send in your messages as well.
Condolence messages from our alumni friends
Dr Nagaraju Konda (LVPEI 1998)
General Manager, Brien Holden Vision Pvt Ltd, India
“I was shaken and my heart beat faster reading the WhatsApp message this morning, about the sudden demise of Prof Brien Holden. In deep despair I shared the unacceptable truth with Roopa. It is hard to believe that the aura of personality and energy is no longer around us in the visible form. For almost 17 years my association grew with time and now I miss him terribly. I reckon Almighty needed a hero to help them design and implement blindness prevention, vision science and technology programs in heavens and hence took Brien away from us. But now who will advocate on behalf of us to WHO on refractive errors, presbyopia and who will lead many countries unseen leaders, Optometrists?? Currently, it’s an unanswered question….
I am sure we all miss him but the greatest tribute to this hero would be to share his vision and continue work in the areas of vision so that we can the gift vision to everyone; everywhere. My deepest condolence to his family. May god give them all the strength and courage in this difficult situation”.
Dr Nagaraju, Prof Brien Holden and
Dr Kalika Bandamwar
Dr Moneisha Gokhale (BLSO 2004)
Associate Lecturer in Optometric Clinical Skills
Deakin Optometry, Geelong, Australia
“The first handshake and me watching with horror as my tiny hand disappeared in his gigantic grip – I knew he existed. He was the chief guest at our graduation. While everyone were celebrating achievements of the students with high academic result, he enlightened us about career opportunities irrespective of our results -I understood that a score does not define us. Rather, there are ample opportunities for those who seek.
He would come to the postgraduate students’ room, introduce himself to the new students, give one of his massive handshakes and ask ‘How are you going?’ – One of his simple acts of leadership. My most memorable moment was being introduced to the ‘Beer on Brien’s balcony’ on a Friday evening where I gained life’s most important lesson. It is important to enjoy what we do to achieve our goals as a team and as a profession.
Dear Prof. Brien Holden, your vision and generosity has given the best swing to my life. Thank you."
Mr Uday Addepalli (BLSO 2004)
Head of Optometry GPR-ICARE, LVPEI, Hyderabad
"Prof Brien Holden is the man who inspired Optometrists all around the world and made us realize that sky is the limit when you want to serve the needy. I was privileged to meet him for the first time in 2000 at Bausch & Lomb School of Optometry, a day that I’ll remember for lifetime. I approached him for his autograph; he looked into my eyes and wrote "looks like you'll enjoy life and reach great heights - Brien Holden". That was the day that I understood that I too can do something and contribute to this profession (until then I was just working without any goal).
My classmate, Venkatesh and I used to dream of taking our convocation certificate from Brien and fortunately we received it from him, which gave us even more encouragement to take him as an inspiration. Wherever and whenever we meet him, he constantly inspired me;his presence is unforgettable, either in class or a party. What a great leader he is!! My deep condolences to his near and dear.
Miss You Brien"
Uday, second from left, next to Prof Brien Holden.
Dr Ravi Bakaraju (BLSO 2006)
Optics and Vision Scientist at Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia
"I was extremely fortunate to work closely with such a charismatic personality and the most influential personality in the field of optometry. Brien will be deeply missed. He will live eternally in our hearts and we will strive hard and continue to travel in his visionary path."
"My sincere tributes to Prof Brien Holden and deep condolences to his family and well-wishers. For many of us he was, he is and he will continue to be a true inspiration, who motivated us through his relentless, dynamic and devoted optometry services. I am indebted for his kindness, who generously offered financial support through prestigious 'Brien Holden scholarships' throughout my PhD candidature. Also, I have been fortunate to be associated with the Brien Holden Vision Institute, where my appreciated research career instigated and will always carry forward those esteemed values. Brien is an extraordinary visionary and to keep his ‘vision’ alive, let us collectively work towards contributing to this exciting profession of 'Optometry'."
Dr Jaya Dantam (BLSO 2006)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Contact Lens Research,
University of Waterloo, Canada
Dr Kalika Bandamwar (second from right) with Prof Brien Holden, Dr Nagaraju Konda and other team members at BHV India, Hyderabad.
Dr Jaya Dantam with Prof Brien Holden at her Graduation
Ceremony in 2012
Dr Kalika Bandamwar (BLSO 2007)
Manager, Research Centre, Brien Holden Vision Pvt Ltd, India
"I woke up to the terrible news this morning and still cannot believe that I will never be able to experience the legendary hand-shake from Brien again! Most people who know him will agree that Brien Holden was not just a name but a brand himself. His passion for optometry and dedication towards providing vision to all was contagious. I consider myself fortunate to have had chance to work with him and learn from him. He was a leader in true sense. His journey will continue to inspire many scientists around the globe. A rock start in optometry and vision science, he had the persona of lion. I bow to the king and pay my deepest gratitude and respect for all he has done for me and people around the globe. It indeed is the darkest day for optometry fraternity."
Ms Malee Malavita (BLSO 2012)
PhD Student, University of Melbourne, Australia
"My deepest condolences to the family of Prof Brien Holden. His leadership and humor will be missed by all of us. Without him, thousands of individuals like me would have not been eye care professionals. I will be grateful forever for giving me and our team from Srilanka, the opportunity to study at Bausch & Lomb School Of Optometry.
Rest in peace Sir!"