2016 saw the successful culmination of the first 50 years of the Queensland Eye Institute Foundation, and 10 years for the Queensland Eye Institute (QEI) itself; an achievement celebrated at their anniversary event in October last year. This milestone, for any business or educational institution cannot be undervalued. To survive for 50 years demonstrates clear success at a board, management and operational level. It is easy to single out current times as difficult for an institute dedicated to world class specialist education, clinical care and research but the truth is that no time is easy for a business to prosper. Although the Queensland Eye Institute is a not for profit entity, were it not run as a lean and successful business, it’s likely that it would not have survived, let alone excelled as it has.
Kudos is given within the QEI to past board members, supporters and management who enabled the institute to become established, who had a clear focus and developed the roots that allowed the recent growth to occur. In particular, the Foundation has been extremely fortunate to have the guidance and foresight of ophthalmologists such as Dr. John Ohlrich and Professor Lawrie Hirst, as well as people like Mr. Charles Viertel, and more recently Mr. Des Hancock, Mr. George Curphy and the trustees of the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation.
Today, the current board and Executive Director, Professor Mark Radford, have a clear vision for the future. The Queensland Eye Institute is now settled within new facilities, in custom built offices with state of the art teaching and laboratory facilities, in the heart of thriving South Brisbane. Its academic reputation is firmly established under the guidance of Chief Scientist, Professor Traian Chirila, who last year received the highest academic honour within his home country of Romania, the Doctor Honoris Causa. The Queensland Eye Institute has attracted scientists and clinicians, who have been trained at some of the best universities in the world, who are collaborating extensively with the finest vision researchers on cutting edge science, including stem cell transplantation and unique bioengineered neuroprotective strategies. Being an independent academic institution allows the QEI the freedom to pursue research directions often difficult in larger organisations.
The clinical care being provided by QEI to the community is, arguably, the best in the world. Many Queenslanders are already grateful for the treatment they receive; many more will be in the future as the aging population and stresses imposed by our sunny climate continue to damage the eyes of the population. Professor Radford and his team, including COO Ms Kelly Langdon, should also feel extremely proud of providing a world-class teaching facility through the QEI. Both ophthalmologists and optometrists have access to some of the finest lecturers, teaching methods and equipment available.
Add to all of this some of the exciting new initiatives QEI are developing, including providing specialised guitar teaching for the visually impaired and creating art classes to assist members of the community who struggle daily to enjoy the simple pleasures those of us with good eyesight often take for granted, and the Queensland Eye Institute is not only surviving in difficult times but prospering to a degree that benefits all in the community.