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Obituary: Tim Bowden

The BCLA pays tribute to Tim Bowden, who has died suddenly

Tim Bowden

The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) has paid tribute to contact lens optician Tim Bowden, who died suddenly this week at the age of 65.

Mr Bowden’s career in optics spanned more than 40 years. His interest in the profession, and particularly contact lenses, was sparked when a friend co-opted his astigmatic eyes as a contact lens case study, the BCLA shared. “He has worn a variety of different types of lenses and specialised in contact lens fitting ever since,” the organisation said.

Mr Bowden was a visiting lecturer in the contact lens department at the City and Islington College in London for 15 years, and served as a practical contact lens examiner for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians. He was also a fellow of the BCLA.

Sharing insight into Mr Bowden’s career, the BCLA wrote: “In 1983 he and his optometrist wife Lis opened their first independent practice in Gravesend, followed by another in Herne Bay, Kent. Their practice in Gillingham, Kent remains open.

“Until recently Tim had been honorary treasurer of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists and was very active in fundraising for Optometry Giving Sight. He had a strong interest in myopia control and orthokeratology.

“Tim wrote a book, entitled Contact Lenses: The Story, and the research for the book led to the Contact Lens Collection at the British Optical Association Museum in London, which is the only actively administered specialist contact lens collection open to the public in the world.

“Tim has held a variety of posts within UK optical professional organisations and has researched and written various articles on contact lens history, as well as the habits and opinions of contact lens wearers.

“In 2012 Tim was presented with the Otto Wichterle Gold Medal for his services to contactology by the Czech Contact Lens Society.

“It is believed Tim died of a heart attack while training for last weekend’s (30–31 July) 100-mile Ride London cycling event, where he was due to be raising money for Vision Aid Overseas – helping to bring eye care services and low-cost spectacles to remote and isolated communities in Africa.”

Speaking about Mr Bowden’s death, BCLA immediate past president, Brian Tompkins, said: “The BCLA and optometry in general has lost one of the most dedicated and charming men we have ever known. He was the presenter of our history at many Visionaries conferences and it is perhaps fitting that he now ranks among the true pioneers of optics.”

He leaves behind wife Lis and their two sons, Ben and Chris.