The International Association of Contact Lens Educators has presented the IACLE Award for Lifetime Achievement in Contact Lens Education to Australian educator and researcher Professor Deborah Sweeney.
Professor Sweeney received the award at the IACLE Congress on Contact Lens Education held in Hyderabad, India on 9-10 September.
Her contribution to global contact lens education includes serving as IACLE President from 2000-2011, and as its Secretary and Treasurer for 10 years, having first become a member in 1990. She has held executive roles at the Cornea & Contact Lens Research Unit, School of Optometry and Vision Science University of New South Wales, Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Eye Research & Technology and Vision CRC. Her current role is Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at the University of Western Sydney.
Professor Sweeney received her award from IACLE President Dr Shehzad Naroo, following a tribute from Professor Desmond Fonn, recipient of the first-ever IACLE Award for Lifetime Achievement in Contact Lens Education, who was among the IACLE Congress speakers.
She acknowledged the contribution of IACLE’s founders to the association, and the long-term support of the contact lens industry that recognised education was ‘a win for the patient, the practitioner and the market’. ‘IACLE is built on the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit of its members,’ she said. ‘It’s been a personal pleasure – as well as a professional one – to be involved. IACLE will continue to make a great mark on contact lens education.’
Dr Naroo commented: ‘Debbie took over from the late Brien Holden, who was IACLE President from 1991-2000. Des Fonn was Vice President for 15 years and served during both former presidencies. It was this remarkable trinity that moulded IACLE to its current form. They created a global organisation that has reached all corners of the world, currently has more than 800 members, and has helped raise the standard of contact lens education and promote the safe use of contact lenses worldwide, in partnership with industry.
‘Debbie was able to take IACLE through some turbulent times. Through her renewed vision IACLE rose into the global model for eye care education. Debbie is a deserved recipient of this award, which is the highest accolade offered by IACLE.’
The IACLE Congress attracted over 100 contact lens educators and industry representatives from more than 20 countries worldwide to Hyderabad for the two-day event at the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). The theme for the congress was Translating knowledge into increasing contact lens penetration.
Key learnings were that educators needed to ensure their students had good product knowledge and improved fitting, aftercare and communication skills. Proactive recommendation, ‘getting lenses on eyes’ and addressing dropout were all essential if more people were to wear contact lenses and – importantly – keep wearing them, said Dr Naroo.
The congress was facilitated by IACLE thanks to the generous support of industry partners Alcon, CooperVision and Johnson & Johnson Vision. The event was timed to precede the 2nd World Congress of Optometry, also in Hyderabad (11-13 September), where IACLE contributed the contact lens stream.
The 2017 IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Award for the Asia-Pacific region, to recognize and reward achievement in contact lens education, was also presented at the IACLE Congress. The recipient was Professor Koon-Ja Lee from Eulji University, Korea. The award was presented by Dr Gary Orsborn, Vice President of Global Professional & Clinical Affairs for CooperVision, sponsor of the Educator Awards.
Professor Deborah Sweeney receives the IACLE Award for Lifetime Achievement in Contact Lens Education from President Dr Shehzad Naroo (right) after a tribute from Professor Desmond Fonn (left)
Captions for images available on request
Dr Gary Orsborn presents the IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year Award to Professor Koon-Ja Lee
More than 100 educators and industry representatives attended the IACLE World Congress on Contact Lens Education, held at the L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India