Awards of Excellence

2018 Honorees

This year’s honorees are in the category of “Pioneers in Myopia Control.” Although there are many who could be recognized in this area, these four have made special contributions in helping clinicians to understand the mechanisms of myopia control and how to employ contact lenses and pharmaceuticals to manage the progression of myopia

The 2018 winners are:


Thomas Aller, OD, FBCLA
Thomas Aller

Thomas Aller, OD, FBCLA graduated from UC Berkeley School of Optometry and for 25 years he has been researching the use of bifocal contacts for the control of myopia. Along with Christine Wildsoet, he conducted the first randomized clinical trial on the use of bifocal contact lenses to control myopia progression. After receiving the world’s earliest patents for a method of myopia progression control, he spent ten very enjoyable years collaborating with Brien Holden and the Vision CRC on their anti-myopia programme. Dr. Aller is currently conducting clinical trials on a novel myopia control lens design, near center vs distance center multifocals, and an anti-hyperopia multifocal lens design. He is also serving as a scientific and clinical advisor to TreeHouse Eyes, a dedicated myopia control practice for children.  

Pauline Cho, Boptom, Med, PhD
Pauline Cho, Boptom, Med, PhD

Pauline Cho is currently a Professor of the School of Optometry at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University where she teaches Contact Lens Practice. She obtained her Bachelor of Optometry at the University of New South Wales, Australia and her PhD at the University of Bradford, UK. She was the recipient of the Department's Teaching Excellence Award in 2002 and she also obtained her Master in Professional, Vocational and Higher Education at PolyU in 2003. She was also the recipient of the Research Excellence Grand Award of PolyU's Distinguish Knowledge Transfer Excellence Awards 2012, for outstanding achievement in clinical research on myopia control and contact lenses. Prof. Cho's current research interests include contact lenses, orthokeratology, compliance in contact lens wear and care, microbial contamination of contact lenses and lens accessories, tears and dry eye. She speaks extensively both locally and overseas especially at major contact lens conferences, and has published over 100 papers in optometric and contact lens journals. Her publications include a book chapter on orthokeratology with John Mountford in Refractive Surgery (eds: Azar D, Gatinel D), 2nd Edition, Mosby Elsevier, and three book chapters on assessment methods in Education. Professor Cho is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Fellow of the British Contact Lens Association, President of the Hong Kong Academy of Orthokeratology, and the Regional Editor (Asia) of the Journal "Contact Lens and Anterior Eye".

Earl Smith, OD, PhD
Earl Smith

Professor Smith received his Doctor of Optometry degree in 1972 and Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of Houston and subsequently joined the faculty of the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO). During his tenure at UHCO, he has served as the chair of the Basic Sciences Department, the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research, and as dean. Professor Smith currently holds the Greeman-Petty Professorship in Vision Development and serves as the interim chief health officer of the University of Houston Amoco. Professor Smith's research interests are focused on the optics of the eye. For his research on the role of vision in regulating refractive development and eye growth, he received the Glenn Fry Award in 1996 and the Prentice Medal in 2010 from the American Academy of Optometry, the Korb Award for Excellence from the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the American Optometric Association (AOA), and was recognized as a Distinguished Scholar and Fellow by the National Academy of Practice in Optometry. Professor Smith has published more than 180 refereed papers and received 33 years of research funding from the National Institute of Health's (NIH) National Eye Institute (NEI). He is also an accomplished lecturer, having received teaching awards at the department, college and university levels. Professor Smith is an active member of the vision science community. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, an ARVO Fellow (inaugural class), a past president of the American Optometric Foundation (2002), a past president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (2010), a past member and chair of NIH NEI's Central Visual Processing Study Section (1998-2003), a past member of NIH's National Advisory Eye Council (2005-2008), and currently serves as a director on the Boards of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research.

Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD
Jeffrey J. Walline

Jeffrey J. Walline, OD PhD is the Associate Dean for Research at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry, and he received his Master’s and PhD degrees from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. Dr. Walline has led several pediatric contact lens studies, and he is the Study Chair of the Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study, a National Eye Institute-sponsored randomized clinical trial to investigate the myopia control effects of soft multifocal contact lenses.

Past Award of Excellence Honorees


Edward Bennett, OD, MSEd
Edward Bennett

Dr. Edward Bennett is currently Professor and Assistant Dean for Student Services and Alumni Relations at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry.  He is currently the Executive Director of the Gas Permeable (GP) Lens Institute, the educational division of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) and is past Chair of the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE).   He also serves on the Council of the Contact Lens and Cornea Section Council of the American Optometric Association(AOA). He is a Diplomate and is a past Chair for the Cornea, Contact Lens and Refractive Technologies Section of the American Academy of Optometry and is also a Fellow in the Scleral Lens Education Society.  He has authored over 200 publications including twelve texts and serves as the Clinical Features Editor of Contact Lens Spectrum. His primary research interests are in the area of gas permeable contact lenses, specifically in the areas of initial comfort, multifocal designs, and orthokeratology(corneal reshaping).  

Gerald E. Lowther, OD, PhD
Gerald E. Lowther

Dr. Gerald E. Lowther received his B.Sc, O.D., M.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University and has been on the faculties at The Ohio State University College of Optometry, the Michigan School of Optometry, School of Optometry University of Alabama at Birmingham where he was associate dean and the Indiana University School of Optometry where he was dean for 10 years.  He is a past-president of the American Academy of Optometry, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and the International Society for Contact Lens Research.   He has authored three books, numerous chapters for other books and has over 100 published papers.

Robert B. Mandell, OD, PhD
Robert B. Mandell

Dr. Robert B. Mandell has had a distinguished career as a clinician-scientist, educator and innovator, with over 50 years of contributions to the field of contact lenses and corneal physiology.  Beginning in 1960 to 1974, he published a series of eighteen papers on the measurement of corneal topography and built several instruments to measure corneal topography, including a small-mire keratometer and several photokeratoscopes including a portable design, which he used to study animal and human infant corneas. Mandell also made many contributions to the physical and optical design of contact lenses.  He studied the effect of different edge shapes on lens comfort, simplified the calculation of lens power, demonstrated how prism power in a contact lens was the same on the eye as it was in air,  designed the first one-piece monocentric bifocal lens, simplified toric lens calculations, designed unique lenses for keratoconus and many other clinical innovations.   Altogether, in his career he had 159 publications in professional journals. Mandell is best known for his classic text, Contact Lens Practice, first published in 1965 and reprinted 14 times in 4 editions, with the last in 1988.  Mandell used his book to introduce many of his unpublished experiments and concepts.  He collected information from nearly 3,500 publications for its preparation, which helped to make it the standard reference source in the field of contact lenses.

Anthony J. Phillips, MPhil, FBOA, HD
Anthony J. Phillips

Tony (A.J.) Phillips graduated from The City University, London followed by research into micro-ocular anatomy, reaction times with so-called Yellow Night Driving Spectacles and underwater contact lenses for the Royal Navy. As a ‘penniless’ Research Student he and three other Research  Students began fitting private contact lens patients as a means of supplementing their income. Three of the four now lecture in universities around the world on the subject! They also formed part of the core that produced the first edition of the textbook ‘Contact Lenses’. Tony has lectured extensively around the world and is now working with co-editor Lynne Speedwell on the 6th edition of the ‘Contact Lenses’ textbook. This includes over 40 co-authors from around the world. He is also author of ‘The Optometrist’s Practitioner-Patient Manual’ a book of pictures and diagrams designed to help Optometrists, and particularly students, explain to patients their clinical condition. Tony is currently Associate Professor and Head of Contact Lens Teaching at Flinders University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science.


Don Ezekiel
Don Ezekiel

Donald Ezekiel followed in his father’s footsteps graduating with a Diploma in Optometry from the Optometry Board of Western Australia in 1957.  Soon thereafter he developed an interest in scleral contact lens fitting and gained valuable experience with some of the most prestigious contact lens experts from the UK, Europe as well as in Australia. Ultimately he became a skilled practitioner in his own right followed by developing his own manufacturing laboratories first in Perth, then later in the USA as well. Don has always been in a unique position to innovate, fabricate lenses and conduct experiments as he has throughout his career in both scleral and presbyopic contact lens designs.

Kenneth Pullum
Kenneth Pullum

Ken Pullum graduated in 1974 at City University, was awarded the FBOA (later FCOptom) in 1975 and the DCLP (later DipCLP) in 1978, and the fellowship of the BCLA 2006. He is currently principal optometrist in the scleral contact lens service at Moorfields and Oxford Eye Hospitals, and in optometry and contact lens practice in Hertfordshire. The majority of his time is dedicated to medical applications of contact lenses, in particular in the management of keratoconus, and in the development of modern scleral lens clinical practice methods, subjects on which he has lectured and written extensively in the UK and overseas.

Perry Rosenthal, MD
Perry Rosenthal

Perry Rosenthal, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor Harvard Medical School, founder of the Contact Lens Service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Polymer Technology Corporation (the Boston Lens® Products) and the nonprofit Boston Foundation for Sight (BFS) where he developed the first non-fenestrated gas permeable scleral lens.  Recently, he founded the nonprofit Boston EyePain Foundation to continue his work in ocular neuropathic pain including that traditionally known as dry eye disease and a newly described, devastating and invisible trigeminal eye pain syndrome.

Rients Visser
Rients Visser

Rients Visser has specialized in the medical application of contact lenses and he is founder of Visser Contact Lens Practice which are mostly located in hospitals and clinics in the Netherlands. He has presented and published widely on scleral lenses and bifocal contact lenses educating many contact lens practitioners across the globe. He also has an interest in research having developed numerous specialty lens designs and fitting techniques. Rients Visser has served on numerous professional and industry advisory boards including the National Board of Health for Risks of Contact Lenses for the Ministry of Health in the Netherlands.

2014 Award WinnerDonald R. Korb, OD, FAAO
Donald R. Korb, OD, FAAO

Throughout his career Dr Korb has divided his time between the practice of optometry and research, authoring over 100 refereed articles and 50 US patents. He has named and described 10 entities; 4 of contemporary significance are meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), GPC, lid wiper epitheliopathy (LWE) and non obvious MGD.  He was the first to observe edema as central corneal clouding with rigid contact lenses, leading to the Korb fitting technique of lid attachment. He invented the CSI lens, the first membrane soft lens and the grandfather of the modern soft lens. Among many other interesting findings he discovered apical bearing lenses with keratoconus resulted in scarring, and the fitting techniques to minimize apical bearing. 

2013 Award WinnerBrien A. Holden, PhD, DSc, OAM
Brien A. Holden, PhD, DSc, OAM

The late Professor Brien Holden was a leading champion for research and the development of new and better vision care technology and products. His contributions extended across research, education, public health and social enterprise. He has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his work in eye health and vision science; the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2010 at the regional World Economic Forum; and seven honorary doctorates from universities Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe and the US. He generated over $1 billion in research, education and humanitarian funds and been described by Professor Earl Smith at the award of his Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters at the University of Houston as, "the most influential optometrist of our generation." Professor Holden passed away unexpectedly in July 2015.

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Conference Director
Maureen Trusky, CMP