Professor Frederick Cossom “Fred” Hollows was a New Zealand and Australian ophthalmologist who is well known for providing quality eye care to those in need throughout the world. His work has been instrumental in advancing the number of people who are now able to receive high quality eye care and in the process he has helped over one million people regain their site.
Fred was born on April 9, 1929 in Dunedin, New Zealand. After working over one summer in a mental hospital he realised he wanted to help people in another way. This lead to him getting his BA degree at the Victoria University of Wellington and his medical degree from the Otago Medical School. Fred’s first job was assisting eye surgeons at New Zealand’s Auckland and Tauranga hospitals where he gained experience in the latest medical technology and was eventually able to perform surgery.
In 1961 he moved to the England to begin post-graduate training in ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital. He completed his fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons and began working as an ophthalmology registrar in Wales. In 1965, he moved to Australia to become the Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales.
In 1968 he began to focus on the large numbers of Australian Aborigines with eye diseases. Fred’s well documented efforts, dedication and persistence over many years lead to a substantial improvement in Aboriginal eye health.
During the 1980s and 1990s Fred continued his work via the poor communities in Nepal, Eritrea and Vietnam. He set up training programs so local technicians could perform the surgery, and he organised lens laboratories in each country to manufacture lenses economically.
Fred’s goal was to provide high quality eye care for those people who could not easily access it, and in 1992 he helped establish the Fred Hollows Foundation to meet this goal. Fred’s lifelong work continues today through the many clinics he established for the underprivileged.
His efforts were rewarded in 1990 when he was named the ‘Australian of the Year’. After fighting a long battle with cancer Professor Fred Hollows passed away on the 10th of February 1993.