Blindness prevention pioneer is SA Australian of Year

James Muecke

Dr James Muecke, AM, new SA Australian of the Year

An eye surgeon who is among the University of Adelaide’s Distinguished Alumni has been named the SA Australian of the Year for 2020.

Dr James Muecke AM has made it his life’s work to fight childhood blindness in low-income countries. His not-for-profit organisation Sight For All has made significant steps towards eliminating blindness in Asia.

Dr Muecke is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Adelaide, and is a graduate of the University (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, 1988).

Since starting his medical career in Kenya, Dr Muecke has been passionate about fighting blindness. In 2000, he co-founded Vision Myanmar at the South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology. The $1 million program has developed and operated eye health and blindness initiatives in Myanmar.

Inspired by this program’s success, Dr Muecke also co-founded Sight For All, a social impact organisation aiming to create a world where everyone can see. With 80% of world blindness avoidable – and almost 90% in poor countries – Dr Meucke treats blindness as a human rights issue.

Dr Muecke creates low-cost programs to fight blindness through research, education and infrastructure, including the comprehensive training of colleagues in Sight For All’s partner countries.

He donates 40 hours of personal time weekly to Sight For All, and is intimately involved in projects in Ethiopia, nine Asian countries, and mainstream and Aboriginal communities of Australia.

His leadership, determination and passion has improved eye health and helped alleviate poverty and disadvantage.

This year, the University of Adelaide recognised Dr Muecke’s achievements with the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Award.

As the SA Australian of the Year for 2020, Dr Muecke will join the other award recipients from around Australia at the national awards ceremony in Canberra on 25 January 2020 – the 60th anniversary of the awards.

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the award recipients: “The 2020 SA Australians of the Year are all passionately devoted to helping others and they remind us we can all make a difference,” she said.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit: australianoftheyear.org.au

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