Over 20,000 children have been treated by Keith Holland & Associates in 25 years’ of practice, having been referred from around the UK and from over 50 countries.
The practice in Cheltenham has won numerous awards, including five Optician eye care awards in various categories, and Mr Holland's work was also recognised with the Fellowship of the American College of Optometrists and Visual Development. During his career he received numerous honours, including the Armand Bastien Award for services to international optometry.
Mr Holland forged links with other professions, lecturing to teachers, occupational therapists, and osteopathic groups, and was a regular speaker at conferences, being invited to present the inaugural UK TEDx lecture in Cheltenham in 2012.
Mr Holland grew up in Esher, Surrey. He studied ophthalmic optics at City University London, where he met his future wife and business partner Clare on the same course in their first term. The couple married in 1980.
After pre-reg posts in north London and Hertfordshire respectively, Keith and Clare registered with the General Optical Council at the same time, receiving consecutive registration numbers. Mr Holland went on to work in the practice of Professor Charles Bedwell, previously his university tutor, and it was during this time that his interest was inspired in how a child’s vision impacted on their reading.
First in the UKHe and Clare moved to Cheltenham and in 1989 decided to set up their own house practice. After a move to large premises, the practice – by now called Keith Holland & Associates – was able to expand in size and scope, dispensing spectacles, fitting contact lenses and running an in-house vision therapy clinic – the first in the UK.
"If a life can be measured by the positive effect it has on others, then Keith’s will outlast us all."
Mr Holland travelled extensively to the US and Australia, learning behavioural optometry and vision therapy techniques in order to better help children with specific learning difficulties. Bringing the techniques back to the UK, he founded the British Association of Behavioural Optometrists (BABO) in 1991. Mr Holland was a delegate at every four-yearly International Congress of Behavioural Optometry since the first conference in Monte Carlo in 1990 and was instrumental in the UK being chosen for the 2014 conference. It will be held in Birmingham from September 11–14.
The team at Keith Holland & Associates – including optometrists Clare Holland, James Turner and Agnes Ali – has made a joint tribute to Mr Holland, stressing: “We are determined to build on Keith’s ground-breaking work in optometry and continue to reflect the loving care and concern he showed all his patients and clients.” The practice continues to be a centre of excellence for behavioural optometry and contact lens fitting and is a finalist in the contact lens for life (teen) category at the 2014 Optician awards.
However, Mr Holland’s greatest passion in life was his family. He and Clare, who were married for nearly 34 years, have four adult children; Rebecca, 31, Richard, 29, James, 27, and Matthew, 25. Rebecca and her husband, Tom, have two children, Daisy, aged two and Martha, aged six months.
Mrs Holland said: “Keith adored his grandchildren and our children have been his rock over the last year. Our children are all quite outdoorsy, and he loved spending time with them outside. He loved to go hill walking, particularly in the Lake District and Snowdonia. He was also a committed Christian and his strong faith was very important to him, and was a great support during his illness.”
The practice has been inundated with letters of condolence, many reporting the transformation in their children’s chances in life after being seen by Mr Holland. One comment seems to summarise the sentiment: “If a life can be measured by the positive effect it has on others, then Keith’s will outlast us all.”