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IACLE names 2021 award winners

Contact lens educators from Colombia, China and the UK have been recognised

Dr Byki Huntjens

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) has announced the winners of its Contact Lens Educator Award for 2021.

The awards recognise achievements in contact lens education worldwide, presented to one individual from each of the association’s global regions. For the 2021 awards, three educators from the UK, Colombia and China received the educator of the year titles.

The IACLE Europe/Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year award has been granted to optometrist, educator and researcher, Dr Byki Huntjens, of City, University of London.

Commenting on the recognition, Huntjens said: “IACLE provides immeasurable support for any contact lens educator worldwide, and particularly during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The association comprises of an extraordinary group of professionals who, like me, have a passion for contact lenses and are willing to share their knowledge to enhance our educational provision. Because in the end, everything we do is for the next generation of eye care practitioners.”

“Thank you IACLE, for this awesome award; I cannot wait to share this news with my students,” she concluded.

Dr Johanna Garzón Parra
IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year, Dr Johanna Garzón Parra
The IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year award recognised Dr Johanna Garzón, of Universidaad de La Salle, Bogota, Colombia.

Dedicating the accolade to her optometry students “past and present, who continually inspire me to become a better educator,” Garzón shared: “‘I am honoured to receive this recognition from IACLE. I have dedicated my professional life to training, research and teaching of the ocular surface, and its close relationship with contact lenses.”

The IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year award was granted to Wei Xu, of the Jinling Institute of Technology, in Nanjing, China.

Wei Xu
IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year, Wei Xu
Reflecting on the award, Xu shared: “When I first took part in the Student Trial Exam as an optometry student in 2002, I would never have imagined that I would receive this award as a contact lens educator.”

Describing how she has drawn on IACLE resources in teaching, Xu explained: “I have used many IACLE resources to enrich my contact lens teaching – IACLE Case Report Series and images collections were the most popular among my students. I have communicated with other contact lens educators through the Distance Learning Program and the Train-the-Trainer program and was glad to see people benefit from both.”

The award winners each receive a bursary towards the cost of attending a major international meeting and will receive their awards at the conference attended, which will be confirmed when pandemic restrictions allow.

Announcing the winners, IACLE president, Dr Shehzad Naroo also thanked CooperVision for sponsoring the awards.