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Lecture at University of Houston to Cover Healthcare Opportunities, Responsibilities, Challenges

An internationally renowned leader in vision sciences will address the financial, legal and ethical issues associated with healthcare on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the University of Houston.

Houston, TX, February 16, 2009 --( As lawmakers in Washington prepare legislation that could overhaul the U.S. health-care system, Americans face a battery of bad news about families who have lost insurance coverage after layoffs, bankruptcies that were caused by astronomical medical bills and providers that can no longer afford to offer indigent care. Such financial, legal and ethical issues will be addressed in a lecture by an internationally renowned leader in vision sciences on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the University of Houston.

Invited by the UH College of Optometry, Brien Holden, the founding director of the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit at the University of New South Wales in Australia, will present a talk titled "Opportunities, Responsibilities and Challenges: 2010 and Beyond" at 7 p.m. in Cullen Performance Hall.

"Dr. Holden is a passionate visionary and tireless champion for citizens throughout the world who lack the fundamental rights to access essential eye and vision care," said Earl Smith, dean of the college. "He raises the bar each and every day through his research, lectures and community service, and we are very fortunate to have him serve as our inaugural lectureship speaker."

Holden's lecture will address the financial strain of the overburdened and bureaucratic U.S. health-care system, access to care and cultural barriers that make it challenging to provide care. He also will draw on his experiences in humanitarian outreach as chairman of the International Centre for Eyecare Education, chairman of Optometry Giving Sight and chairman of the Refractive Error Working Group of the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO statistics show, over the past decade, a decline in the number of people worldwide who are blind or visually impaired and a decline in the number of people who are blind from infectious diseases. They also show an increase in the number of people who are blind from conditions related to longer life spans, leading the organization to recommend modifications of health-care policy to address the management of such age-related disorders.

Holden is one of the first international speakers in the history of the lecture series, which was established in 1992 by the Delta Gamma Foundation. Previous speakers include former President Gerald Ford, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, billionaire Steve Forbes, poet Maya Angelou and reporter Carl Bernstein.

The inaugural annual Delta Gamma Foundation Richard D. Shirk Lectureship in Healthcare Values & Ethics is named for the former president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.

"We could not be more thrilled that someone with Dr. Holden's expertise and international recognition is our inaugural speaker," said Heather Shirk Patrick, of Delta Gamma. "As an international women's fraternity that is dedicated to leadership and service, we're very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear his insights on this very important issue."

Since 1936, Delta Gamma's philanthropic purpose has been to stop blindness before it starts. It has funded genetic research, low-vision adaptive devices, tapes, Braille books and hundreds of life-enhancing programs. For more information on Delta Gamma, visit

The nonprofit Prevent Blindness America has estimated that adult vision problems in the United States affect the economy to the tune of $51.4 billion annually.

What: Healthcare Values & Ethics lecture: "Opportunities, Responsibilities and Challenges: 2010 and Beyond"

Who: Brien Holden, chief executive officer of the Vision CRC, the world's largest vision correction research, education and public health group

When: 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19

Where: Cullen Performance Hall at the University of Houston, Entrance 1


For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at

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University of Houston
Angela Hopp

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