In 2020, the IACLE Lifetime Achievement in Contact Lens Education Award was presented to Professor Luigina (Gina) Sorbara for her many contributions over the nearly 40 years she has been involved in imparting her knowledge to IACLE members worldwide.
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, we were unable to present the award in person to Professor Sorbara, but many of her past and current colleagues paid tribute to her in a video. Gina has been an Officer of the IACLE Board of Directors since the early 1980’s and acted in several roles, including Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-President. In addition to her active involvement on the Board, she travelled around the world to provide contact lens education to educators and their students, participating in national and regional educational meetings, train-the-trainer programs and world congresses.
Gina was the Head of the Contact Lens Clinic at the School of Optometry & Vision Science, University of Waterloo for more than 35 years and was responsible for training thousands of eye care professionals in Canada. Her research interests were in specialty lens designs for keratoconus and orthokeratology, optical coherence tomography, corneal topography, fluorophotometry, clinical grading and clinical trials involving new lens materials, designs and care systems. She retired in 2020.
Gina was touched by the recognition of this award and said “It has always been my privilege to work with IACLE and I am especially thankful for all the wonderful opportunities it has given me to contribute to international optometry”.
Dr Naroo commented: ‘The IACLE Lifetime Achievement Award is one that has only been earnt by a select few individuals who have shown commitment by working tirelessly with IACLE for many years. Gina follows in the footsteps of Professor Des Fonn and Professor Debbie Sweeney and we are proud that she is the most recent recipient of IACLE’s highest accolade. Gina has held various key positions with IACLE for many years, most recently Treasurer and then Vice President. She has traveled to many parts of the world offering teaching sessions and various IACLE member meetings. It is safe to say that she has left her mark on many educators in our profession over her long and distinguished career.’
Watch the video starting with a collection of photos from over the years and messages from Gina’s colleagues offering their congratulations:
In 2017, IACLE presented the IACLE Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Deborah Sweeney.
Professor Sweeney received the award at the IACLE Congress on Contact Lens Education held in Hyderabad, India on 9-10 September 2017.
Her contribution to global contact lens education includes serving as IACLE President from 2000-2011, and as its Secretary and Treasurer for 10 years, having first become a member in 1990. She has held executive roles at the Cornea & Contact Lens Research Unit, School of Optometry and Vision Science University of New South Wales, Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Eye Research & Technology and Vision CRC. Her current role is Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at the University of Western Sydney.
Professor Sweeney received her award from IACLE President Dr Shehzad Naroo, following a tribute from Professor Desmond Fonn, recipient of the first-ever IACLE Lifetime Achievement Award, who was among the IACLE Congress speakers.
She acknowledged the contribution of IACLE’s founders to the association, and the long-term support of the contact lens industry that recognised education was ‘a win for the patient, the practitioner and the market’. ‘IACLE is built on the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit of its members,’ she said. ‘It’s been a personal pleasure – as well as a professional one – to be involved. IACLE will continue to make a great mark on contact lens education.’
Dr Naroo commented: ‘Debbie took over from the late Brien Holden, who was IACLE President from 1991-2000. Des Fonn was Vice President for 15 years and served during both former presidencies. It was this remarkable trinity that moulded IACLE to its current form. They created a global organization that has reached all corners of the world, currently has more than 800 members, and has helped raise the standard of contact lens education and promote the safe use of contact lenses worldwide, in partnership with industry.
‘Debbie was able to take IACLE through some turbulent times. Through her renewed vision IACLE rose into the global model for eye care education. Debbie is a deserved recipient of this award, which is the highest accolade offered by IACLE.’
In 2015, presented the first IACLE Lifetime Achievement Award for global contribution to contact lens education and IACLE, to Professor Desmond Fonn.
Professor Fonn received the award at a dinner at Manchester Museum to mark the Third IACLE World Congress on Contact Lens Education, held in Manchester, UK from 24-28 May 2015.
His contribution to global contact lens education includes being a founding member of IACLE and its Vice President for 15 years. He also served as Editor in Chief of the first edition of the IACLE Contact Lens Course (ICLC), used by educators around the world. And in 1994 and 2000, he organized the previous two IACLE World Congresses.
A Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, Professor Fonn joined the university in 1986 and was founding Director of its Centre for Contact Lens Research (CCLR). He retired from the university’s School of Optometry in 2010.
At the award presentation, Professor Fonn’s successor at Waterloo, Professor Lyndon Jones, described him as a ‘giant in the contact lens world’. ‘We owe Des a phenomenal thanks because without him we wouldn’t be here,’ he said.
‘IACLE has been very dear to me,’ said Professor Fonn, acknowledging the contribution of the association’s co-founders and the support of industry since its inception. ‘I’ve made incredible friends around the world who have spent thousands of hours working for IACLE. The result is that IACLE has been so instrumental in driving contact lens education.