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NZAO Man Named International Optometrist of 2008

Media Release
19 March 2008

NZAO Optometrist named 2008 International Optometrist of the Year

Tauranga optometrist, Ron Fyfe, is the 2008 International Optometrist of the Year, and will receive his award at a formal ceremony at the Guildhall in London in April.

The award is given annually by the World Council of Optometry to an optometrist who has shown outstanding dedication, commitment and achievement in service both to the profession and the community at large.

Geoff Sargent, president of the NZ Association of Optometrists, said he was thrilled to announce Ron Fyfe’s success.

“The award is a great honour within the optometry profession and richly deserved by Ron”, said Geoff Sargent.

Ron Fyfe first qualified as an optometrist in Glasgow in 1971. After practising in UK, Kuwait, Bahamas, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, he settled in Tauranga, NZ, in 1989. Ron has served optometry locally as a member, Councillor and President of the NZ Association of Optometrists (1993-1996) and has contributed to eye care in the Pacific Islands on aid trips organised by Volunteer Ophthalmic Services Overseas (VOSO) over the past 15 years. Ron was Trustee and Chair of VOSO (1991-1994) and assisted with fund-raising for eye care aid as well as providing health services to aid missions. Seven times he has been a member of a VOSO team taking outreach services to the outlying islands and villages of Fiji for two weeks at a time.

Ron has been Chairman of the Public Health and Development Committee for the World Council of Optometry (WCO) for 15 years and has been involved in many aid initiatives such as arranging for donated equipment from Japan to be shipped to Nigeria and the Philippines. A major thrust of the development work is to set up partnerships between developed and developing countries and the establishment of a register of volunteer organisations delivering eyecare services throughout the world.

Ron is firmly committed to Vision 2020 - The Right to Sight programme of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness and the aim of eliminating preventable blindness from the world by the year 2020.

One of the primary causes preventable blindness worldwide is uncorrected or under-corrected refractive error. 153 million people are technically blind due to lack of access to eye exams or corrective spectacles and an estimated further 150 million are functionally blind due to presbyopia, i.e. the lack of glasses to help with functional close work such as reading or handwork. Ron’s work through the WCO Public Health Committee has contributed to a teaching resource giving guidance to optometrists in developing countries for developing public health awareness and involvement in eradicating preventable blindness.


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