World Council of Optometry
Kovin Naidoo-high crop

Prof. Kovin Naidoo, WCO Congress Committee Chair

Prof. Naidoo is an academic, former anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner, optometrist and an internationally celebrated public health leader. His professional life has been dedicated to delivering eye care to people in need.

Prof. Naidoo is the former CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute. He is a Honrary Professor of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Visiting Professorial Fellow at University of New South Wales, Australia.  He has published extensively in epidemiology and public health. Recognizing the need to develop research capacity in Africa, Prof Naidoo initiated the formation of the African Vision Research Institute (AVRI). Included among Prof. Naidoo’s many esteemed affiliations are the following: member of the World Council of Optometry Executive Committee; Founder and Chair of African Vision, former Chair of the Red Cross Air Mercy Services Board of Trustees and former Africa Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

Prof. Naidoo is a Fulbright Scholar and was elected as an Ashoka Fellow and a Schwab Fellow. He was jointly awarded with Professor Brien Holden, the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2010 at the regional World Economic Forum in Tanzania in recognition of his ability to merge business acumen with social causes. The American Academy of Optometry awarded him the Essilor Award for outstanding contributions to Optometry in 2010, and the British College of Optometrists an honorary fellowship in 2009 for his contribution to the development of optometry in Africa and the developing world. He was African Optometrist of the Year in 2002, then International Optometrist of the Year in 2007, recipient of the Henry B. Peters Memorial Award in Public Health and Environmental Vision for 2016 and in 2017 received the distinguished Prevention of Blindness (POB) Shield Lecture award from the Saudi Ophthalmology Society. Prof Naidoo has been awarded  an  honorary  Doctor  of  Humane  Letters  by  the prestigious  State  University  of  New York (SUNY) College of Optometry in 2018. In 2019, the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry and Optometry Association of Philippines honoured him with the Inaugral Claro M Cinco APOC Leadership Advocacy Award.

Prof. Naidoo currently works in the Social Impact division of Essilor as a Senior Vice President.