Our History

Our History

In 1925, when Helen Keller – the world’s first blind/deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and a tireless international advocate for the blind – urged the Lions Clubs to join her in a “crusade against darkness”, she planted a seed that has yielded a rich harvest all over the world.


Helen Keller’s call was heard in Western Australia and triggered these milestone events:

Our History Timeline

  • 1964

    Dr Robert Linton AM, “the father of modern ophthalmology” in Western Australia, establishes the state division of the Australian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness to educate the community about eye health. In the same year, the Foundation initiates free community glaucoma screenings in a customised mobile caravan.

  • 1970

    Lions Clubs in Western Australia form the Lions Save-Sight Foundation (WA) Inc to expand the work being done by the Australian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness and lead the development of world-class ophthalmic care in WA.

  • 1975

    The Lions Chair in Ophthalmology is established at The University of Western Australia (UWA) with Professor Ian Constable AO at the helm.

  • 1983

    The inspired partnership between the Western Australian Lions movement and Professor Constable quickly results in ophthalmology becoming the largest research consortium in UWA and leads to the creation in 1983 of the Lions Eye Institute, a not-for-profit organisation established to save sight through world-class research and clinical practice. Professor Constable and his team move to A Block at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

  • 1986

    The Lions Eye Bank is established to collect, process and distribute donor corneas for transplantation throughout Western Australia.

  • 1991

    Develops excimer laser surgical system – PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) – to correct refractive errors of the eye such as myopia, and conducts first such surgery in Australia.

  • 1993

    Professor Graham Barrett AM invents the Barrett Universal II Formula, considered to be one of the most accurate intraocular lens power calculation formulas. It is globally recognised and used to improve the refractive accuracy outcomes of cataract surgery.

  • 1996

    The Lions Eye Institute research facilities open, enabling the Institute to pursue a broad range of eye research projects and encompass clinical laboratory and preventative medicine.

  • 1997

    The first LASIK (laser eye surgery) procedure in performed in Western Australia is performed by Lions Eye Institute surgeons.

  • 1998

    The world’s first artificial cornea, the AlphaCor, is developed at the Lions Eye Institute and successfully implanted in patients in the USA, Australia and India.

  • 1999

    Professor Ian McAllister and others develop the central retinal vein occlusion bypass laser surgery procedure, treatment improving vision for sufferers of nonischemic central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO).

  • 2005

    The Lions Eye Institute opens in Murdoch, in Perth’s southern suburbs, as part of a commitment to the wider community. This clinic provides local access to ophthalmologists specialising in glaucoma, oculoplastics, cataract and retinal conditions.

  • 2006

    Professor Ian Constable AO wins the ANZAC Peace Prize.

  • 2007

    The Lions Eye Institute joins forces with the Western Australian Government, UWA and the WA Institute of Medical Research to build a new state-of-the-art medical research facility at the QEII Medical Centre and consolidate medical research in Western Australia.

  • 2013

    Lions Outback Vision is officially launched to provide high quality eye health services to Western Australia’s remote, regional and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

  • 2016

    The Lions Outback Vision Van – a custom-built mobile eye health clinic with specialist equipment and consulting rooms – commences its telehealth services into regional and remote communities in Western Australia.

  • 2017

    Professor Elizabeth Rakoczy wins the Florey Medal for her pioneering research in discovering a new gene therapy for wet aged related macular degeneration. The adenoviral vector 101 gene therapy was developed in collaboration with Adverum Biotechnologies.

  • 2018

    The Xen Gel Stent®– a breakthrough surgical treatment for lowering pressure in the eyes of glaucoma sufferers – is approved for use in Australia. Invented at the Lions Eye Institute, the technology represents more than 20 years of research by Professor Dao-Yi Yu AM and his team.

    Professor David Mackey AO awarded the largest ever NHMRC grant for research into the genetics of eye disease.

  • 2019

    Residents in Perth’s eastern suburbs gain greater access to a range of premier eye care services with an expanded Lions Eye Institute clinic presence in Midland.

    The Virna Glaucoma Drainage Device, co-invented by Professor Bill Morgan and Dr Virna Oktariana, is launched in Jakarta to tackle high rates of glaucoma in Indonesia.

    Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti wins the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research for her work in developing world-first pre-clinical models to test the use of immunotherapy to control the cytomegalovirus.

    Associate Professor Angus Turner is named Western Australian of the Year (Professions category) for his work in outback vision.

  • 2020

    The Lions Eye Institute partners with UWA to develop the state’s first Optometry School. The new degree is a Doctor of Optometry.

    Develops prototype for non-invasive intra cranial pressure measurement, which will provide a benefit to a wide range of patients in neurology, neurosurgery, emergency departments and astronauts in space.

  • 2021

    The Lions Outback Vision Kimberley Hub is opened in Broome to provide Pilbara and Kimberley residents with critically needed access to local eye health care.

    Established the state’s first paediatric diabetic eye health initiative in collaboration with Perth Children’s Hospital – the Perron Paediatric Retinopathy Intiative.

  • 2022

    Two new Professorial Chairs were appointed by the Lions Eye Institute, and in collaboration with UWA and Curtin University. Professor Allison McKendrick as the inaugural Lions Eye Institute UWA Chair in Optometry Research and Professor Andrew Turpin appointed as the inaugural Lions Curtin Chair in Ophthalmic Big Data.

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