Professor Brien Holden

Our CEO and founder, Professor Brien Holden passed away on 27 July 2015. His passion and generosity was legendary. In a remarkable career, Professor Holden became a global leader in eye care and vision research, internationally renowned and awarded scientist and humanitarian who believed in vision for everyone…everywhere.

Professor of Optometry at UNSW Australia and CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Professor Holden was the driver behind a social enterprise that educated over 180 PhD students, raised over $1.3 billion in research, education and humanitarian funds, helped initiate the global campaign to eliminate blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error and developed products that have generated over $26 billion in sales for industry and over $300 million in royalties for partner institutions. The Brien Holden Vision Institute is now the largest and most productive vision (correction) research centre in the world.

Nearly all those worldwide who wear contact lenses, have directly benefited from his research efforts, including co-developing silicone hydrogel contact lenses, the most popular contact lens material.

To address uncorrected refractive error, the Brien Holden Vision Institute has delivered eye care services to more than three million people in 54 countries; established over 400 vision centres or sites for eye care worldwide; and trained over 130,000 personnel around the world.

To know the eye care profession, you must know about Professor Brien Holden.


  Awards and Scholarships       Prestigious Awards

1986: The Ruben Gold Medal, International Society for Contact Lens Research.
1988: The HB Collin Research Medal, Australian Optometrical Association.
1988: The Glenn A. Fry Award, American Academy of Optometry.
1993: The Kenneth W Bell Medal, Contact Lens Society of Australia.
1994: University of Houston College of Optometry Award.
1995: Honorary Life Member, Dutch Optometric Association (ANVO).
1997: Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
1997: British Contact Lens Association Medal.
1998: Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, Pennsylvania College of Optometry.
1999: Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, The City University London.
2001: Scientia Professorship, University of New South Wales.
2002: G Peter Halberg Medal, International Ophthalmological Contact Lens Council.
2002: Special Recognition Award Medal, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
2002: Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, University of Durban-Westville.
2002: Inducted into the USA National Optometry Hall of Fame.
2002: Inaugural Roger Kame Memorial Award. Global Orthokeratology Symposium.
2003: Dr Jospeh Dallos Award, The Contact Lens Manufacturers Association.
2003: Wichterle Medal, Czech Contact Lens Society.
2004: Inaugural International Award of the Academy of Optometry, American Academy of Optometry.
2005: Josef Lederer Award for Excellence in Optometry, Optometry Association Australia.
2005: Allan Walker Medal, Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers.
2006: Prince Abdulaziz Bin Ahmad Shield for the Prevention of Blindness.


2007: Honorary Fellowship, The College of Optometrists (UK).
2007: Donald R Korb Award, Contact Lens Section of the American Optometric Association.
2008: Honorary Member of the Accommodation Club.
2008: University of Houston College of Optometry Award.
2008: Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, Ohio State University.
2008: Carel C. Koch Memorial Medal Award, American Academy of Optometry.
2009: Dr Leonard Bronstein Memorial Award.
2010: Honorary Doctorate, Université de Montréal Canada.
2010: Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2010, at the regional World Economic Forum - joint award with Dr Kovin Naidoo, ICEE Africa.
2011: Excellence in Innovation Award, CRC Association.
2011: VOSH / International Lifetime Achievement Award.
2011: Founder’s Award, American Academy of Optometry.
2012: Honorary Doctorate, Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Houston.
2012: Lt. Gen. Jahan Dad Memorial Gold Medal Award, Pakistan Optometric Society.
2013: Global Specialty Lens Symposium Award of Excellence.
2013: Distinguished Service Award, World Council of Optometry.
2013: The Garland W. Clay Award, American Academy of Optometry.
2013: The Peter Watson Medal, Cambridge Ophthalmology Society.
2014: James Cook Medal, The Royal Society of New South Wales.
2014: Charles F. Prentice Medal, American Academy of Optometry.



Holden BA & Mertz GW, Critical oxygen levels to avoid corneal edema for daily and extended wear contact lenses, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Oct 1984 Vol 25, 1161‐1167.
Holden BA, Sweeney DF, Vannas A, Nilsson KT & Efron N, Effect of long‐term extended contact lens wear on the human cornea, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Nov 1985 Vol 26, 1489‐1501.
Holden BA, Fricke TR, May Ho S, Wong R, Schlenther G, Cronjé S, Burnett A, Papas E, Naidoo KS, Frick KD, Global vision impairment due to uncorrected presbyopia, Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol 126 (No. 12), Dec 2008.
TST Smith, a KD Frick,a BA Holden,b TR Fricke b & KS Naidoo, Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of uncorrected refractive error, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2009;87:431–437.


Stapleton F, Keay L, Edwards K, Naduvilath T, Dart JKG, Brian G & Holden BA,‘ The incidence of contact lensrelated microbial keratitis in Australia’, Ophthalmology, 2008; 115:1655-1662.
Naidoo KS, Raghunandan A, Mashige KP, Govender P, Holden BA, Pakharel GP & Ellwein LB, ‘Refractive error and visual impairment in African children in South Africa’, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2003;44:3764-3770.
Holden BA, Mertz GW & McNally JJ. ‘Corneal swelling response to contact lenses worn under extended wear conditions’, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, February 1983.
Zantos SG, Holden BA. Transient endothelial changes soon after wearing soft contact lenses. Am J Optom Physiol Opt 1977;54:856-8.