History

50 years of preventing blindness and preserving sight

Our journey began in 1965 when the Australian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness (Queensland Division) was incorporated. The mission included the establishment of an academic eye institute to undertake world-class research into diseases that threaten the eye. 

Dr John Ohlrich was the driving force in establishing the Foundation and provided excellent leadership and guidance for many years.

Under the support of the Prevent Blindness Foundation, and with the generous financial assistance of supporters such as: Mr Charles Viertel OBE, Optical Prescription Spectacle Makers (now OPSM), the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists, Lions International, and Perpetual Trustees, the University of Queensland Chair of Ophthalmology was established at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in 1986. Also in 1986 Professor Lawrence Hirst was appointed Executive Director of the Foundation.

In 1991 the name of the Foundation was changed to the Prevent Blindness Foundation (PBF). Under the guidance of Professor Hirst, the Queensland Eye Bank was opened at the Princess Alexandra Hospital the following year. This world class Eye Bank has provided thousands of corneas to patients who have lost their sight and restored their ability to work, drive and travel.

In 2002, Mr Des Hancock was appointed Chairman of PBF and led the Foundation until 2011. Fundraising began in earnest to build an academic eye institute for Queensland.

After many years of hard work and determined effort, the Queensland Eye Institute was officially opened on 30th June 2005 by the Queensland Minister for Health. This was the realisation of a dream shared by many people.

In 2010 Professor Lawrence Hirst retired from his role as Executive Director and Professor Mark Radford was appointed to take on the role of guiding the Foundation and the Queensland Eye Institute into its next chapter. Overtime it was becoming apparent that the Foundation was outgrowing its premises at the Mater Hospital and a plan was set to source a new facility to incorporate its growing specialist services and expanding medical research. 

In 2011 Mr Mark Sheridan was appointed as Chairman of the Prevent Blindness Foundation and continues to lead the Foundation today. The QEI Board made an investment in excellence when it agreed to fund the development of the South Bank Day Hospital, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Queensland Eye Institute. The Hospital presents QEI with an exciting opportunity to transform the way they provide care to patients and their families. All profits from the hospital go back into the Foundation to support our medical research and teaching activities of the institute. 

On 3rd June 2014 the new premises of the Queensland Eye Institute was officially opened by Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland, Ms Penelope Wensley AC, at 140 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane. The new facilities are the result of the efforts and tireless work of so many people who had a vision for Queensland, in particular the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation. It has been the selfless legacy Charles Viertel left and generously named the Prevent Blindness Foundation (now renamed as the Queensland Eye Institute Foundation) as a beneficiary.

Today the model of the Foundation may look different to what was started 50 years ago but the goal back then was the same as it is today - to prevent blindness and preserve sight.