Celebrating a lifetime of achievement
Kerry Atkinson, Clare Luoni, Greg Nel and Alex Petty at CCLS NZ 2024

Celebrating a lifetime of achievement

May 1, 2024 Lesley Springall

Auckland-based optometrist Kerry Atkinson was honoured with a life membership of CCLS NZ, the first to be awarded in more than five years.


Recently retired after a long and distinguished career, Atkinson’s impact on fellow optometrists and patients has been profound, said CCLS NZ president Adele Jefferies. He was the first New Zealander to get a BOptom from City University in London and to complete the prestigious British postgraduate diploma in contact lenses, which had a notoriously high fail rate. Returning to Aotearoa in the late ‘70s, he set up a speciality contact lens practice in Ōtāhuhu, Auckland, with Graham Kearney, and quickly became active in the profession as president of the New Zealand College of Optometrists and a course developer and teacher of contact lens education at the University of Auckland. A long-standing professional teaching fellow at the university’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, he ran the specialist-contact lens clinic for final-year students for many, many years, resulting in him receiving the prestigious Dennis Pickup Clinical Educator Award in 2020.


“He has been a much-loved contact lens teacher at the university under at least five different heads of department,” said Jefferies. “He has also contributed as an author to every single edition of the seminal textbook, Contact Lenses, and has been a long-serving member of CCLS.” Atkinson’s nomination, by fellow contact lens specialists Paul Rose and Grant Watters, was unanimously approved and met with spontaneous applause at the CCLS NZ AGM, she said.


Atkinson said the award was a complete surprise and a singular honour. CCLS is a unique society, combining both medical and optometry specialists who come together to exchange knowledge and demonstrate enthusiasm for their skills, he said. “New Zealand is a small country and sharing knowledge is invaluable.”


Atkinson said he couldn’t recommend membership of New Zealand’s CCLS more highly to young optometrists as it’s a great place to meet and talk to people to become a more effective practitioner. “It’s a great opportunity to catch up with one's classmates and exchange gossip and ideas.”