Dr. Akio Kanai, CEO of Fuji Optical, has been announced as the Brien Holden Humanitarian Award winner for 2018 by the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), for his efforts in delivering vision care to refugee communities over more than three decades.
The award, honoring the memory and work of Professor Brien Holden, PhD, DSc, FAAO, recognizes an individual or organization who has made significant contributions to improve eye care within a country or region. In particular, the award acknowledges humanitarian efforts in the nonprofit sector that build or support the development of sustainable eye care systems in developing communities.
A graduate of the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University (MBKU), U.S., Dr Kanai began cooperating with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1984, and has since conducted more than 35 missions to help refugees in Nepal, Thailand, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
He has donated over 160,000 pairs of glasses, provided optometry equipment, made cash grants and trained local medical staff as part of these efforts. Fuji Optical is UNHCR’s longest-serving corporate partner.
Dr Kanai, who knew Brien Holden through involvement with the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry, said, “We really lost a great person who contributed so much for the developing countries.”
“It is my great honour to receive the Brien Holden Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Optometry,” he added.
Ms Amanda Davis, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation, said Dr Kanai’s commitment to delivering eye care to refugee communities over more than 30 years, and which continues today, is truly humanitarian.
“Both through his own efforts and through the contributions of Fuji Optical, he has brought much needed eye care to our most vulnerable people, and his dedication to this cause over such a long period is really inspiring to others working in the field,” she said.
In 2006, Dr Kanai received the Nansen Refugee Award from UNHCR and in May, 2018, an honorary degree from MBKU. He will receive the Brien Holden Humanitarian Award at AAO’s annual meeting, held in San Antonio, U.S., from 7-10 November in 2018.