“I appeal to you LIONS, will you not constitute yourselves KNIGHTS of the BLIND in this crusade against darkness?”
In 1925, when Helen Keller urged Lions Clubs to join her in a “crusade against darkness”, she planted a seed that has yielded a rich harvest all over the world.
Forty-five years after her initial call, at their 1970 Lions Convention in Albany, Lions Clubs in Western Australia agreed to the formation of the Lions Save Sight Foundation (WA) Inc. to lead the development of world-class ophthalmic care.
From humble beginnings, the Foundation has grown to become one of the leading volunteer eye health organizations in Australia. Established by the Lions Clubs of Western Australia, its sole purpose is for the prevention and treatment of eye disease.
Over time, the Foundation achieved a number of milestones – including the establishment of the Lions Chair in Ophthalmology at The University of Western Australia in 1973 with Professor Ian Constable at the helm.
The Lions Clubs of Western Australia together with the Foundation, through hard work, generosity and determination set out to end debilitating eye disease and blindness. This goal gathered momentum, and in 1983 under the guidance of Professor Constable the now internationally renowned Lions Eye Institute (LEI) was created.
In 2009, following the retirement of Professor Ian Constable from the role, Professor David Mackey, who is recognised as a world authority on the genetics of eye disease, was appointed Managing Director of the LEI.
Today the Lions Eye Institute is recognized as the most advanced eye institution in the Southern Hemisphere, seeing over 50,000 patients and performing close to 4,000 major eye operations annually.
In addition, The Lions Eye Institute supports world class scientists from many different disciplines and during its 30 year history, has produced many major scientific publications and technical breakthroughs. LEI has achieved the highest level 5 in the federal government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) ranking. In 2012 LEI/UWA was funded as a Centre of Clinical Research Excellence by the NHMRC for Translation of Genetic Eye Research.
LEI also houses a Laser Vision Centre – Western Australia’s premier refractive surgery centre, the Lions Eye Bank – responsible for the collecting, processing and distribution of corneal and scleral tissue throughout Western Australia, and Lions Optics.
In 2013 the Lions Eye Institute celebrated its 30th Anniversary along with a considerable list of international achievements.