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Monday 16 January 2023 12:22pm

HDM Theatre main contentWorld-leading eye surgeon Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to ophthalmology in the New Year Honours list.

Professor Danesh-Meyer has had a ground-breaking career as the first female Professor of Ophthalmology and the second female Professor in any surgical specialty in New Zealand.

The Otago alumna was “very humbled and surprised” to receive the honour, which she says is recognition of the efforts of many people working in the field.

“I appreciate that my work is the culmination of many people's dedication and commitment and certainly has been a team effort. More importantly, there is still a lot to do in the area of advocacy and empowerment in ophthalmology. “

Professor Danesh-Meyer graduated with an MB ChB from Otago in 1991. She says she is “deeply grateful to Otago for giving me the opportunity to train under extraordinary ophthalmologist Professor Tony Molteno and Associate Professor Gordon Sanderson – who sparked my passion for ophthalmology.”

Currently the Sir William and Lady Stevenson Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Auckland, Professor Danesh-Meyer is Head of Academic Neuro-Ophthalmology and the Glaucoma Research Unit of the New Zealand Eye Centre.

She is Chair and co-founder, in 2003, of Glaucoma New Zealand, which now comprises 15,000 members and is recognised as the official advocacy organisation for patients in New Zealand with glaucoma.

Professor Danesh-Meyer has also served as the Chair of Women in Ophthalmology for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), introducing innovative polices that have reduced inequities and promote diversity and inclusion in clinical and scientific training.

Her research has yielded key insights into the causes and improved management of glaucoma and other leading causes for blindness in New Zealand.

She has also received multiple awards for her work and service, including the College Medal, the top recognition awarded by RANZCO for outstanding professional contributions, and the Paul Harris Rotary Medal for community service.

“It is a tremendous honour to be recognised in this way. It's a recognition of the wider team involved in our patient empowerment and professional education efforts, shining a light on the need for joined up approaches involving patients, healthcare professionals, higher education and government sectors to tackle important chronic conditions of ageing such as glaucoma.”

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