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Soft contact lens inventor wins top US award

The founder of an Australian eye health research centre that developed the world’s first long-wearing soft contact lens has received one of optometry’s highest scientific honours.

Brien Holden, chief executive of the Brien Holden Vision Institute at the University of New South Wales, was awarded the Charles Prentice Medal by the American Academy of Optometry on 14 November. The award is given annually by the academy for a career-long body of significant research.

Holden has spent almost 50 years studying all aspects of eye health including surgery, requirements for safe contact lens wear and the major causes of blindness and myopia. He was one of the founders of the CRC for Eye Research and Technology in 1991, which developed the world’s first silicone hydrogel contact lenses. The soft lenses improved comfort, allowed longer wear and reduced the risk of eye injuries related to hard contact lenses.

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