IACLE marks 40th year milestone

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) celebrated 40 years of ‘Exceptional education. Exponential impact’ at the British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference in Manchester last weekend (30 May to 2 June).

More than 100 delegates took up the invitation to ‘Make Your Mark’ at the IACLE exhibition booth on a time wall of milestones in the association’s history. Visitors also contributed ideas for the future of contact lens education.

Three of the Founding Members of IACLE who attended its very first meeting – in Monte Carlo, Monaco in November 1979 – were saluted at the IACLE/BUCCLE Education Day held on 29 May to coincide with the conference. The day was jointly organised with the British & Irish University & College Contact Lens Educators, and attracted 80 members and guests.

IACLE’s founding president Dr Hilmar Bussacker, first BUCCLE chair Richard Pearson and former IACLE vice president Professor Des Fonn, described their experiences of the early days of IACLE and were awarded certificates to mark the 40th anniversary. First IACLE secretary Dr John de Brabander sent a video message to delegates.

Outgoing industry supporters Dr Dwight Akerman (recently retired from IACLE Platinum Sponsor, Alcon) and Ian Davies (formerly of IACLE Silver Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson Vision) were also acknowledged, with IACLE Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Contact Lens Education. Professor Lyndon Jones received the Lester Janoff Memorial Award 2019 from the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators. His colleague at the University of Waterloo, Canada, IACLE assistant secretary Dr Luigina Sorbara, presented the award.

40th Anniversary celebrations continued with a presentation from IACLE president Dr Shehzad Naroo during the International Perspectives session, followed by a reception and cake-cutting hosted with vice president Professor Philip Morgan of the University of Manchester at the association’s exhibition booth.

The 2019 IACLE Contact Lens Educators of the Year stepped up to the stage at the IACLE Awards Presentation in the main auditorium on 1 June. Receiving their certificates from Dr Gary Orsborn Vice President of Global Professional & Clinical Affairs at CooperVision, sponsor of the Educator Awards, were:

• IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year: Dr Rubén Velázquez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City
• IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year: Professor Craig Woods, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia
• IACLE Europe/Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year: Dr Fabrizio Zeri, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

Also receiving his certificate from BCLA president, Professor Sunil Shah, was one of five IACLE Travel Award recipients for 2019, Joseph Afonne from Mzuzu University in Malawi. The annual Travel Awards are funded by IACLE and all its corporate sponsors. All the awards presented were co-sponsored by the BCLA.

The awards ceremony completed a very successful week for IACLE that saw its members and Fellows involved throughout the program at BCLA 2019, as they chaired sessions, joined panel discussions, and delivered lectures and workshops.

Judith Morris, IACLE regional president for Europe/Africa Middle East and organiser of IACLE/BUCCLE Education Day, commented: “The 40th celebration at the BCLA exhibition booth had such a buzz, and the events in the UK will help make 2019 a memorable episode in the life of IACLE. The Education Day also had a very positive atmosphere.”

IACLE’s 40th anniversary events now move on to the Asia Pacific Optometric Congress (APOC) in Manila, Philippines (17-20 June). Celebrations will be held at two further major international meetings during 2019: the Colegio Federación Colombiana de Optómetras (FEDOPTO) Congress in Bogotá, Colombia (8-10 August), and Academy 2019 and the 3rd World Congress of Optometry in Orlando, Florida, USA (23-27 October). Many more national and local meetings around the world will mark the occasion.