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Vision Excellence Awards: Mitch Brinks

Dr. Mitch Brinks

Dr. Mitch Brinks is a skilled ophthalmologist and natural leader, bringing expertise and energy to his organizing efforts. As the current Chair of VISION 2020 USA, he has produced collaborative activity and momentum which forwards the US eye care agenda. Each of these activities are closely aligned with the global goals of VISION 2020.

As a case in point, Mitch Brinks recently organized members nationally to develop a consensus statement on the state of vision and eye health in the U.S. and the main priorities for improving eye care throughout the country. This statement, shared with the US Surgeon General, led to a convening between VISION 2020 USA members and other health care leaders. The meeting resulted in a formal request that the US Surgeon General’s office produces a substantial report on vision and eye health in the U.S. This report termed a Call to Action, is one of the major organizing actions from the Surgeon General’s office, intended to coordinate federal, state, and local government efforts, and those of the stakeholder community, to improve vision and eye health in the U.S. Ongoing discussions with the U.S. Surgeon General’s office continue with the goal of producing this report in the near future.

In addition, he has expanded the membership and reach of VISION 2020 USA through his chairmanship. In most cases, new incoming members of VISION 2020 USA have also become members of IAPB. Mitch makes substantial contributions through his active participation of key committees of Prevent Blindness and its Center for Vision and Population Health.

Mitch notes being humbled by the opportunity to serve with the global community:
“Working alongside so many dedicated, talented, and like-hearted people is the greatest honor of my life. I truly believe Peter Holland’s description of vision and eye health as the ‘golden thread weaving through all of the Sustainable Development Goals’. I recognize the importance of our work to care for sight as central for the growth and advancement of global society.”

Beyond Mitch’s extensive service with VISION 2020 USA, he has a wide range of responsibilities at his home institution, the Oregon Health Science University’s Casey Eye Institute. Working with local partners including a number of Native American health programs, Dr. Brinks has developed a strong community eye health program. He led the development of the Casey Eye Institute’s collaboration for service, education, and research in low- and middle-income countries in SE Asia and the South Pacific. In the context of this programme, Dr. Brinks and OHSU developed an international educational collaboration with five hospital systems based in Myanmar and Thailand.

His commitment to marginalized communities has been instrumental in expanding outreach activities. Mitch is a highly regarded teacher and mentor within his department.