NewVision Clinics Director Dr Noel Alpins AM receives Order of Australia Medal

Internationally recognised ophthalmologist, Dr Noel Alpins — widely-known for his innovative approaches to the analysis and treatment of astigmatism—has been presented with a prestigious Order of Australia medal for his contributions to refractive surgery innovation.
NewVision Clinics Director Dr Noel Alpins AM was presented with his Order of Australia medal at a ceremony at Government House in Melbourne on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
He was awarded a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to ophthalmology, particularly to the development of innovative refractive surgery techniques, and to professional associations.
Dr Alpins, who began performing refractive eye surgery in 1985, has been a pioneer in refractive and cataract surgery in Australia.
He was one of the first ophthalmologists in Victoria to start performing laser vision correction in 1991 and since founding NewVision Clinics in the 1990s, has treated tens of thousands of patients with the Excimer laser.
Dr Alpins is also internationally recognised for inventing new methods for treating and analysing astigmatism, including the Alpins Method.
The Alpins Method —widely recognised as a significant breakthrough in astigmatism analysis— has been adopted by many peer reviewed journals, as well as the American National Standards Institute, as a standard for reporting astigmatism results.
Based on this method, Dr Alpins also invented the ASSORT surgical planning outcomes analysis software program, which is currently used by ophthalmologists, both in Australia and overseas. The ASSORT website has many free to use applications for Dr Alpins colleagues worldwide.
Local recognition for international work
Dr Alpins said it was” humbling” to receive such an esteemed award.
“It’s very gratifying to be acknowledged in Australia for the things I’ve achieved on an international scale,” Dr Alpins said.
“Of course, my work has relevance locally too because the things that I’ve developed, which are better ways of treating astigmatism and analysing astigmatism, has helped so many people all over the world, including here in Australia.”
“But it is extremely gratifying to be recognised in your own country with such an auspicious national award.”
Dr Alpins said one of the highlights of the ceremony—which was hosted by Victoria’s Governor General, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC—was the number of former patients who came up to congratulate him.
“At the ceremony there were about three or four separate people who came up to me and said, ‘Hi, you did my eyes 10 or more years ago and they’re still working great.”
“It was a great reminder that what you do is actually helping people in a tremendous way to either get out of glasses or to get better vision through cataract surgery,” Dr Alpins said.
Innovation continues
His innovative work continues to have a significant impact on not only patients but the international industry, as a whole.
He has recently developed a new technique for measuring astigmatism called corneal topographic astigmatism (CorT), which could soon supersede current methods.
“Up until now we’ve used a technique called SimK which stands for Simulated Keratometry which; in simple terms, it looks at just one ring of the cornea,” Dr Alpins said.
“CorT, on the other hand, looks at the entire cornea and some recent papers have shown it to be more accurate than SimK for measuring astigmatism.
“SimK values have been employed since the introduction of corneal topography technology in the 1980s. So I think CorT is just about making laser surgery more accurate and also making it available to eye doctors all over the world which is something we are doing through the software I have developed.”
Highly awarded and regarded
Dr Alpins is on the editorial board of many prestigious publications, including the American and European Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, The Journal of Refractive Surgery, Ocular Surgery News and Eurotimes.
He regularly contributes articles to scientific journals and ophthalmic information magazines on cataract and laser, astigmatism and myopia surgery.
Later this year, he will release a book that collates information from the 20 research papers he has had published as first author on these topics, throughout his illustrious career.
His contribution to ophthalmology is also reflected in the number of association memberships and fellowships he holds across the industry, including: Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, the American Board of Eye Surgery, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and the American College of Surgeons.
He also a member of the International Intra-ocular Implant Club, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons and the International Society of Refractive Surgery.
His most recent Order of Australia medal adds to a long list of previous awards, including the 2012 International Society of Refractive Surgery (ISRS) and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Lans Distinguished Award which is presented annually to an individual who has made innovative contributions to the field of refractive surgery, especially in the correction of astigmatism.
Dr Alpins also received the 2013 American Academy Ophthalmology (AAO) Achievement Award and the ISRS Lifetime Achievement award in 2014 for his internationally recognised contributions to the advancement of refractive surgery over his career.
Dr Alpins said receiving the Order of Australia medal was particularly gratifying and having his family there to see him receive the award made it extra special.
“My wife Sylvia and my three daughters have been a wonderful support to me throughout my career and have been very extremely forgiving when my work has taken me away from spending time with them. So having them there to see me accept this award was really special.”

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Byline: Rachel Wells