Australian of the Year 2020
Dr James Muecke AM
Eye surgeon and blindness prevention pioneer
Since starting his medical career in Kenya, Dr James Muecke AM has been passionate about fighting blindness. In 2000, he co-founded Vision Myanmar at the South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology. The $1 million program has developed and operated eye health and blindness initiatives in Myanmar.
Inspired by this program’s success, James also co-founded Sight For All, a social impact organisation aiming to create a world where everyone can see. With 80% of world blindness avoidable – and almost 90% in poor countries – James treats blindness as a human rights issue.
James creates low-cost programs to fight blindness through research, education and infrastructure, including the comprehensive training of colleagues in Sight For All’s partner countries.
James donates 40 hours of personal time weekly to Sight For All, and is intimately involved in projects in Ethiopia, nine Asian countries, and mainstream and Aboriginal communities of Australia. His leadership, determination and passion has improved eye health and helped alleviate poverty and disadvantage.