Dr James Muecke AM
Recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's Alumni Award 2019
Graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1988, eye surgeon Dr James Muecke AM has made it his life’s work to fight blindness in the world’s low-income countries.
A trip to Myanmar in 2007 to conduct research about childhood blindness became one of the catalysts for James to co-found the not-for-profit organisation Sight For All.
“We discovered that half the kids who were blind in that country were needlessly blind, with diseases that could have been treated or prevented,” he said.
Through the provision of collaborative research, sustainable education, infrastructure support, and health promotion, Sight For All has made significant steps towards eliminating blindness in Asia.
“We were able to bring over a young eye surgeon from Myanmar and train him for a year at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide,” said James.
“He went home as the first paediatric eye surgeon for his country of nearly 60 million people. We then set him up in the first paediatric eye unit with all the appropriate diagnostic equipment and surgical instruments. He now sees approximately 20,000 children each year and, in 2015, started training his own colleagues as paediatric eye surgeons.”
According to James, this is a perfect example of Sight For All’s sustainable ‘teach a man to fish’ strategy.
James donates up to 40 hours a week to Sight For All. The not-for-profit organisation now impacts more than half a million people annually across nine countries in Asia and one in Africa.