Brien Holden’s words taken to heart

September 11, 2015

I am a contact lens practitioner in the Philippines. My practice of 25 years was influenced by none other than Professor Brien Holden.

I am a contact lens practitioner in the Philippines. My practice of 25 years was influenced by none other than Professor Brien Holden.

In 1991, Dr. Antonio F. Joson, Jr., a former secretary general of the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry, and Dr. Claro Cinco, a recipient of the International Optometrist Award, recommended me to attend the Association of Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE) meeting in Columbus, OH. It was the first international optometry meeting that I attended. I met the leaders in the field (see Figure 1), and Professor Desmond Fonn and Dr. Lugina Sorbara invited me to visit the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science in Canada.

Related: Remembering Brien Holden

Through the visit, they encouraged me to apply for the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) Fellowship that was established by Professor Brien Holden. I applied and was given the rare opportunity to study, observe, and even teach at the School of Optometry in Waterloo. It was a short, sweet, but significant impact in my career.

In 1995, immediately after my Fellowship in Waterloo, Professor Brien Holden requested me to attend the IACLE meeting in Kuala Lumpur to give a short testimony of what I learned during my stay at UW School of Optometry (see Figure 2).  

Years passed, and I would see and hear Professor Holden speak at international meetings. He left IACLE in good hands and went on to establish the now world-renown Brien Holden Vision Institute.

The question is asked

This past May 2015, after the IACLE 3RD World Congress, I also attended the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Conference in Liverpool, UK. I was looking forward to listening to Professor Holden’s lecture on multifocal contact lens treatment in myopia and that of Professor Pauline Cho on orthokeratology treatments.

After the two spoke, there was the usual open forum to answer questions. Dr. Holden threw the question to Dr. Cho regarding which of the different methods (multifocal contact lens, atropine, or orthokeratology) is the best method to slow down progression of myopia. Dr. Cho replied that according to a lot of research studies and from her own experience and research, it is still orthokeratology. Dr. Holden threw a question back to the reply: “Why are we not doing it?”

Related: Brien Holden on contact lens myopia management

This comment left such a strong impact and conviction on me that when I got back to my practice in Manila, I started to aggressively offer orthokeratology to my myopic pediatric patients.

Perhaps Dr. Holden’s question of “Why are we not doing it?” can also be thrown to us in other areas of optometry. His vision of socialized entrepreneurship to address uncorrected refractive error globally, especially in underdeveloped parts of the world, should be taken seriously.

For now, the students of optometry in the Philippines- formed YODA-Young ODs Assembly-and is organizing to establish the YODA Eye Center. This center aims to offer affordable eye care to the public through comprehensive eye examinations in different provinces and cities.

And yes, Professor Holden-I agree with your question, “Why are we not doing it?”

Related: An interview with Brien Holden