Alumni Profiles

KOVIN NAIDOO

BSc, BOptom (UDW), MPH (Temple), OD (PCO), PhD (UNSW), FAAO, FBCO

CEO: Brien Holden Vision Institute, Africa Chairperson: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

Formerly a student leader and political detainee, having been banned and house arrested during apartheid, Professor Kovin Naidoo is a distinguished alumnus who has continued his social consciousness through his academic career. A powerful public health advocate, he has devoted his working life to reducing avoidable blindness and vision impairment, with specific emphasis on refractive error. Kovin completed his undergraduate studies in Optometry at the former University of Durban Westville (now University of KwaZulu Natal) in 1992 and went on to concurrently complete his OD at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and Masters in Public Health from Temple University in the United States of America in 1995. In 2010, Kovin obtained his PhD qualification from University of New South Wales (UNSW).

On returning to South Africa in 1995, Kovin was appointed as Head of the Department of Optometry at the former University of Durban Westville from 1996 to 1999 and has honorary appointments as Adjunct Faculty at Salus University (USA) and Senior Visiting Fellow at UNSW. Kovin’s focus in blindness prevention was triggered almost 15 years ago by research which indicated that the blindness around the world was significantly affected by uncorrected refractive error. In late 1998, with the support of Professor Brien Holden from the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Australia, he set up the Africa trust of the International Centre for Eyecare Education, today known as the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation (Africa). Public health optometry is his passion as can be seen by the activities he has undertaken since. In response to his realisation that there was a need to develop research capacity in Africa, Kovin founded the African Vision Research Institute (AVRI) in 2005.

AVRI is working on global systematic reviews on blindness prevention and has recently launched Africa’s only joint ophthalmology and optometry journal: African Vision and Eye Health. When he realised that 80% of the population in Africa relies on the public sector for health and vision concerns and this was not working for them, Kovin developed a sustainable pathway for refractive error services in the public through the employment of >300 optometrists in the public sector. He also founded African Vision, an NGO addressing avoidable blindness, particularly from cataracts.

He currently serves as the Africa Chairperson of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, an executive committee member of the World Council of Optometry and Chair of WCO’s Public Health Committee. Kovin has also conceptualised an exciting upcoming initiative, ‘Our Children’s Vision’ Campaign’ which will focus on child health and refractive error. It aims to reach 50 million children by 2020 and is run by the Brien Holden Vision Institute with founding partner Vision for Life Foundation is supported by the musician Bono and REVO sunglasses. 

LEWIS WILLIAMS

AQIT(Optom), MOptom, PhD

Lewis graduated from Brisbane’s Queensland Institute of Technology (QIT, now QUT) in absentia in 1972 having completed the course at the end of 1971. Winning the National Service lottery (compulsory military service/conscription) in 1970 (reintroduced in 1964 because of the ongoing Vietnam War) and being granted a two year deferment to complete his studies, meant that in January 1972 the Royal Australian Army-National Service Supplement could wait no longer. After 18 months in the Army, spent mostly in the Royal Australian Corps of Signals he returned to QIT for a brief refresher course before entering full-time private practice in Indooroopilly Shoppingtown (now Shopping Centre) in Brisbane.

At the commencement of the next academic year and supported by 12 months of funding from the government following military service, Lewis headed to UNSW to do a masters-qualifying year before tackling UNSW’s MOptom degree full-time. Lewis’ MOptom major project was the development of a photokeratoscope under the supervision of the late Dr Max Lang. After completing the MOptom course he commenced a combination of student-clinic supervision, private practice, and research assistance in what was to become the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit (CCLRU) headed by Dr Holden. Eventually, he enrolled in a PhD in the CCLRU. While a post-graduate student Lewis lived on campus in International House as a Resident Tutor and also served a term as co-chairman of the IH Residents’ Society. While living on campus it is probable that his distinctive car achieved greater notoriety than any of his activities while a student. After successful completion of his PhD, he joined CIBA Vision Australia as Clinical and Professional Services Manager with responsibility for the Australian and New Zealand markets. Later his roles included Customer Services and Regulatory Affairs Management as well. He worked at CIBA Vision for almost eight years.

Next he turned his hand to casual lecturing in contact lenses, contact lens clinic supervision, and a detailed study of the quality of services provided by the UNSW School of Optometry’s clinics in the mid-1990s following a grant to the School by the UNSW. Essentially that study confirmed that the School was delivering a broad, valuable, and greatly appreciated range of services. Not long after the study’s completion, the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE), an educator group supported by the international industry that is dedicated to enhancing the quality of contact lens education worldwide, invited him to join its curriculum development programme. That programme was creating a comprehensive, 10-volume text on contact lenses and included lectures, practicals, tutorials, and supporting visual media. The course and most other IACLE resources are translated subsequently from the English original created in Sydney into IACLE’s core languages: Behasa, Simplifi ed Chinese, and Latin American Spanish, before supply to its members. Many selected sections have been translated into various other languages by dedicated members with the associations blessing and co-operation.

IACLE also conducts the only international contact lens educator accreditation programme via its Fellowship Exam held every second year. Lewis was employed by IACLE full-time for the next 16 years. Having completed the IACLE course, created various slide libraries, and a signifi cant number of interactive contact lens case reports, his ongoing IACLE commitment reverted to part-time. Over more than 35 years, Lewis’ photographic interests have resulted in some of his images appearing in various ophthalmic media, especially the Australian Journal of Optometry and Insight. Occasionally, complete articles were contributed by him. Currently, he works for Insight, now in its 38th year of publication, part-time as a writer and photographer covering clinical, optical, and technical matters. His personal interests overlap much of the foregoing – photography, electronics, things mechanical and optical, computing including embedded controllers, and music (1960s music, especially instrumentals, and classical organ).

He is married to a UNSW optometry graduate, Angela Kalliris, who has her own full-time practice in Bankstown, Sydney. They have three children – an accountant son (BEcon, UNSW), a designer daughter (BDesign (Vis Comm), UTS), and a daughter who has just completed her HSC. Over the years Lewis has also had an extensive involvement with the Contact Lens Society of Australia (CLSA, now the Cornea and CLSA [CCLSA]) serving on the NSW state chapter for many years.

For almost 30 years he served on the CLSA committee headed by Mr Ken Bell (another UNSW optometry graduate) that was responsible for the CLSA Congress held every three years. He was responsible for the audio-visual component of each congress. Largely because of his ongoing photographic pursuits, he has also accumulated images, objects, and ephemera that in effect amount to a small archive of the School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS) that is stored on Level 3 of the Rupert Myers Building.

TIM THURN 

Director Technical Education & Professional Services, Essilor Asia Pacific, MiddleEast, Russia and Africa.

The Cape of Good Hope is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the very tip of South Africa. I am standing here and looking at one of the most spectacular views that I’ve ever seen. As I reflect the thought pops into my head, ‘I can honestly say that my career has taken me to the ends of the earth’. If not for my degree in optometry I wouldn’t be standing here over 11,000kms from Sydney. Optometry served as the launch pad for my career and the basis for much of my day to day activities. After graduation from UNSW I went to South Australia to practice and immediately got involved in the politics of the profession. Working in a busy private practice, there were few optometrists in my area, and I soon learned about the need for being totally organised. Working with a group of partners also taught me about the importance of the business aspects of optometry.

In 1986 & 87 I served as the President of the OAA South Australian Division and almost as soon as I took up the role; the Government put forward a bill to deregulate optometry; a local pharmacy chain started selling ‘ready-mades’ and the profession was pushing for the use of diagnostic drugs. All these matters were referred to a Select Committee of the Upper House of the Parliament. This baptism of fire exposed me to the difficulties of dealing with government. In addition I learned a lot about the optical market in Australia and worldwide. It was after this experience that I wanted to move more into the realm of marketing and management and through a great coincidence, Essilor was looking for someone for their new Australian subsidiary and I got the job. After 3 years with Essilor Australia, I lived and worked in France for 7 years as an International Product Manager for Essilor International. My optometry degree was invaluable in letting me get to grips with working with our R & D teams as we developed and launched new products globally.

It wasn’t the only degree that I needed; I did my graduate business studies at the American University in Paris to give me a formal background in marketing. In addition, I used my optometric practice knowledge and experience to help others in our team to understand practitioners and the patients that they see. In the last 10 years, as I have travelled the world, I have met and trained more than 7,500 practitioners and 1,000 optometry educators. My background in optometry has always been essential in defining and delivering key messages to improve, not only the knowledge of practitioners and students, but also the quality of eye-care for their patients.

JENNIFER LONG

B. Optom (Hons), MSafetySc, PhD Optometrist

Jennifer graduated with a Bachelor of Optometry from UNSW in 1988, and after two years employment as an optometrist in western Sydney took the bold step of self-employment in a consulting-dispensing practice in Artarmon on Sydney’s north shore. In hindsight, self-employment came very early after graduation, but this was not unusual at the time – at least 3 of her classmates (out of a class of about 40 students) had already taken up the challenge by the time Jennifer signed up for her own practice. In 1996 Jennifer sold her practice.

The following year she enrolled in a Master of Safety Science at UNSW to pursue an interest in ergonomics. She graduated in 2000 and that same year took up full-time employment at the School of Optometry, UNSW, as a Senior Staff Optometrist (Occupational Optometry) in the optometry clinic and Professional Services Manager in the Optics and Radiometry Laboratory (ORLAB). During her employment she was bestowed the title “Occupational Optometry Specialist” by the then NSW Board of Optometric Registration. She also became a Certifi ed Professional Ergonomist, which is a professional level of accreditation within the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA). A tree-change in 2006 took Jennifer and her husband to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Jennifer returned to work in optometry private practice and currently works one day a week at EyeQ Lithgow. She is also self-employed as a visual ergonomics consultant. Jennifer maintains her links with the School of Optometry and Vision Science as a Conjoint Senior Lecturer where she teaches the undergraduate subjects Environmental Optometry, Clinical Examination of Colour Vision, and Radiometry, Photometry and Colorimetry (formerly known as Measurement of Light and Colour). Jennifer has been affi liated with the School of Optometry and Vision Science as a teacher for 20 years, and is conscious that she has been teaching for as long as many of her current students have been alive! Her foray into optometry teaching began in 1995 with a guest lecture to 1st year optometry students on the topic “Patient Communication”.

In addition to lecturing, her teaching over the years has included clinic supervision (general clinic and colour vision clinic) and research project supervision. Since she has dual qualifi cations as an optometrist and ergonomist, Jennifer has often fi elded enquiries from her optometry colleagues asking for ergonomics advice to assist their physical comfort in the consultation room. This led to her completing a PhD on the topic of work-related musculoskeletal discomfort in Australian optometrists, and allowed her to apply her ergonomics knowledge and experience to address a widespread issue within the optometry profession. In the ergonomics community Jennifer is known for her work in visual ergonomics. She is the chairperson of the International Ergonomics Association Visual Ergonomics Technical Committee and is president-elect of the HFESA, due to take offi ce in November 2014 for a 2 year term.

Jennifer’s visual ergonomics interests include computerized technology, visual ergonomics standards and optometry-ergonomics professional affairs, and she considers herself fortunate that her interests have allowed her the opportunity to collaborate with visual ergonomics colleagues in Australia, Scandinavia and the USA. 

TIMOTHY GRANT

B.Optom, MBA, FAAO

Tim graduated from UNSW in 1979, and then made the journey across the Hay Plains to practise in the Riverland of South Australia, based in Renmark. After 2 years in the Riverland and a short stint in Dubbo he decided to embark on the European adventure, arriving in London at the height of the Falklands War and the Maggie Thatcher era. Initially in order to become registered, regular trips to the London Refraction Hospital were necessary in order to complete the ‘bridging course’ which was mainly to learn the famed UK National Health Service and check if he was able to complete a full refraction. Working at the David Clulow ‘house’ practice in Earl’s Court gave Tim an appreciation for the art and science of contact lenses. It is at this practice he learnt to fit all manner of contact lenses from PMMA to RGPs to HEMA based materials, plus the importance of lens care and their effect on different lenses and ultimately the patient. As David Clulow was also a manufacturer of contact lenses and lens care, he developed an interest in all types of manufacturing and material research and development. Of course the obligatory tour of Europe in a kombi van followed his time in London.

In 1984, on returning to Australia, Tim joined the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit at UNSW for a 6 month assignment. This turned into 6.5 years of exciting research and learning. During these years Tim managed large scale clinical research trials for sponsoring companies and, together with several colleagues, established the health benefits of frequent replacement hydrogels lenses. The contact lens industry was on a significant growth phase with US, Japanese and Australian companies developing materials and manufacturing processes requiring on-eye testing. There are many stories of success and failure at this time. With the clinical results Tim was a frequent speaker at Australian and International scientific and clinical conferences. 

When least expecting a change, Tim was offered a role based in Zurich with Ciba Vision as the Head of Global Clinical Trials in 1991. During this time clinical trials were conducted on a worldwide scale to compare and contrast the performance of Ciba Vision products to their competitors and to determine how the products performed under various conductions. A significant learning for Tim was the variation in optometric clinical practice in each country he set up clinical trials.

In 1994 Ciba Vision moved their HQ to Atlanta USA which provided an opportunity for Tim to return to the Research and Development group. When the SEE3 international collaborative program was established to develop a contact lens suitable for 30 days and nights of continuous wear, Tim was appointed as the Head of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs for the program. In this role he had the responsibility of ensuring the lens was appropriately tested for safety and efficacy in the laboratory as well as the clinical setting to meet individual country regulatory requirements. Over 100 on-eye clinical trials were conducted before a final decision was made to determine which material and process would be used to manufacture the lens. During this period regular trips to Washington DC to meet the officials at the Food and Drug Administration was also required. In 1998, the final year prior to launch of Focus Night and Day, Tim was ‘embedded’ within the manufacturing facility where he learnt the mass production of contact lenses and the logistics required to support their manufacturing and distribution.  The innovation from this project has had far reaching effects by changing the material used for contact lenses and the silicone hydrogel materials which followed being based on this unique technology. After the first launch of Focus Night and Day in November 1998 Tim returned to the Australian Ciba Vision organisation to begin his ‘business’ career.

During the next phase the only constant was change. Gaining experience of General Management in Australia and New Zealand he then returned to Zurich in 2001 where his responsibilities covered the distributor markets of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa. With this culturally diverse territory travel was a constant companion though there was always time for the slopes of the Swiss Alps.  Many happy memories of encounters with colleagues and customers serve as a reminder to him that most of our fellow man are simply after a regular job with family security and happiness.

With the rapid development of Asia, at the beginning of 2004, a move to Singapore was required to establish the Ciba Vision regional office. During this time Tim initially headed up the Professional Affairs group to develop materials to train contact lens fitters and to ensure the products sold by the Eye Care Practitioners was correctly prescribed and the wearers appropriately managed. In addition to this, Tim also managed the business of the distributor markets of Asia which included India, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Returning to Australia in 2006 so the children could begin high school and return to the family to home, Tim returned to the Professional Affairs role based in Sydney which he continues to this day. Since the integration into  Alcon his territory now covers Russia and Asia excluding Japan but he still has time to cycle on Sunday mornings using it as an excuse for coffee and a yarn.

Tim has established himself as an expert in the contact lens industry with knowledge ranging from clinical trials, regulatory affairs, materials science, manufacturing process, logistics and on-eye performance as well as the commercial world of a global organisation and that of optometry. With Global, regional and national experience cultivated over many years Tim is truly a “citizen of the contact lenses world”.

MARGARET O’NEILL

BOptom (Hons)

Margaret O’Neill (class of 1991) was presented with a UNSW Alumni Award 2014 in the category of Community-at Large. This award is presented by the university in recognition of her work establishing Australia’s most successful Aboriginal eye care service, The Northern Eyecare Program. The program has run for over 12 years and has achieved sustainability. It now comprises a team of 50 eye care practitioners including optometrists, ophthalmologists and local hospital staff.

The Program improves on screening programs at it delivers eye care services comparable to that found at the local suburban optometrist, whether the community has as few as 20 residents or hundreds of residents. Such an achievement required Ms O’Neill to champion changes in the way state and federal governments fund rural optometry, work with Aboriginal cultural values and improve optometry and ophthalmology professional relationships. Her tenacity, integrity, work ethic and passion have worked to prevent blindness, correct and preserve vision and quality of life for thousands of indigenous Australians.

 

 

GRAHAM PEACHY

BOptom, FCOVD, FACBO, Behavioural Optometry Specialist

Since graduation (B. Optom), Graham has maintained a strong involvement with his almamater through the School of Optometry and Vision Science by undertaking post graduatequalifications for both Diagnostic Ophthalmic Drugs and Ocular Therapeutics as well asbeing a sessional lecturer to the UNSW Masters program in Behavioural Optometry from itsinception. Early in his professional career, Graham was awarded fellowships to study in the USA at thePathway School with the famous GN Getman OD. Behavioural vision care and vision therapywere provided at both the Pathway School and the associated Gesell Institute within a comprehensive approach supported by a multi-disciplinary team.

While in Philadelphia, Graham also completed a residency in Behavioural Optics at theGesell Institute of Child Development. These studies combined to have a profound influenceon the shaping of his professional orientation and subsequent career.His professional interest with Functional Vision and its relationships to learning led him tobecome a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and subsequently,the foundation President of The Australasian College of Behavioural Optometry. Graham has contributed numerous publications to the national and international optometric literature. In addition to this, he is a well-known lecturer both nationally and internationally.

Graham is currently the senior clinical optometrist in the multiple-location, family practice that he and his wife Maxine established. The Peachey Optometry Clinics are located in Albury, NSW, and Wodonga, Victoria just a few kilometres apart. Succession planning was completed with equity and management being purchased by two of his three sons, (Monty, B.Optom, UNSW & Nathan, Opt. Disp.) and daughter–in–law (Paula, Opt. Disp. COVT).

Graham’s mode of practice, lectures and publications reflect his full-scope optometric approach that includes both a neuro–developmental and a neuro–rehabilitative perspective to functional vision care . ‘Defect, deficit and dysfunction’ are all considered. Healthy eyes, clear sight and defect is a good start ; but the operational integrity of acquired ‘neural networks’ (Schemata) are viewed as key contributers to the development of, or rehabilitation of, efficient functional vision that operates with ‘minimal demand on attention’.

In the past several years the vision therapy clinics at Peachey Optometry have been exploring the clinical application of technology that provides an evidence-base to the objective neurodevelopmental assessment and treatment outcomes of basic optomotor and perceptual deficits. Visits to Germany, communications with Prof. B Fischer and his team as well as his never ending private study have facilitated the development and application of new clinical procedures. Graham reported on the clinical use of this technology at the most recent International Congress of Behavioural Optometry, just after the publication of ‘A Sensory Fix for Problems in School’ (Fischer B; Sc.Amer, Mind : March / April , 2010, pp 32 -37.)

Graham’s contributions to Optometry have been outstanding and recognised both nationally and internationally, including: 1. The ‘GN Getman Award for excellence in Developmental Optometry’, from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. 2. ‘Keith Woodland Memorial Award’ from the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometry. 3. ‘Armand Bastien Memorial International Award’ from the Optometric Extension Program Foundation. 4. Panel Member Emeritus of the Australian Optometric Panel of which he was a foundation member. 5. His dedication to community service was recognised through the presentation of the award from his Rotary club as a Paul Harris Fellow.