Alan Saks is an optometrist and contact lens specialist. As well as conducting general optometric services such as eye examinations and children’s vision (paediatrics), Alan specialises in keratoconus and complex contact lens fitting and management, often on referral from local and international colleagues and eye surgeons. This includes advanced contact lenses utilising his own SAKS design and a variety of proprietary designs for keratoconus, regular and irregular astigmatism, hyperopia, myopia, aniridia, ocular albinism, nystagmus, strabismus and various other conditions.
Alan was influential in the shift to single use disposable contact lens practice (daily disposable contact lenses), being one of the first to recommend and prescribe such modalities and continues to educate around the world on such concepts. He performs regular clinical trials and pre-market evaluations for a variety of soft-lens and specialty rigid gas permeable designs for leading manufactures. He utilises customised contact lenses manufactured in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, UK, Holland, US, Canada and Japan to suit the specialised cases he is referred.
Like Grant Watters, Alan is also one of the few remaining practitioners who are able to modify, re-power and polish rigid gas permeable lenses in house, often in the course of an annual contact lens consultation.
Alan is an early adopter of the management of dry eye, ocular surface and tear film problems and utilises a variety of diagnostic aids and treatments including diet, supplements, environment, make-up and cosmetic modification.
He uses advanced technology such as corneal mapping (topography), and imaging techniques to help perfect contact lens designs, to enhance vision and maintain long term safety and corneal integrity.
Alan is a third generation optometrist, a member of the Royal College of Optometrists and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. He served three terms as President of the Contact Lens Society of South Africa, two terms as President of the New Zealand Society of Contact Lens Practitioners (now CCLS) and was honoured by an inaugural fellowship. He is a consultant to the international contact lens industry and author of the monthly columns In Contact and Saks on Eyes. Alan lectures and presents keynote presentations around the world at international conferences. Alan served on the editorial boards of the journals; International Contact Lens Clinic and The South African Optometrist.
Alan joined Barry + Beale Optometrists in 1996 and was a Partner and Director from 1998 to 2008.
In early 2011 Alan joined Mortimer Hirst an iconic independent New Zealand practice located in the same premises as when it first opened in 1951, 9 High St, Auckland CBD. A pioneering contact lens practice Mortimer Hirst has been instrumental in the development of contact lenses in New Zealand, fitting them since the 1950’s and manufacturing both hard and soft lenses on site at 9 High St until 1978. Mortimer Hirst continues to have an in-house contact lens laboratory for rigid lens adjustments.
Mortimer Hirst was the ideal practice for Alan to continue his specialty career. Business partners Grant Watters and Naomi Bicheno are delighted to have Alan join the professional team and continue the tradition that Mortimer Hirst has established.
Mortimer Hirst also has a practice in St Heliers; 3 St Heliers Bay Road. Alan’s patients now have the option of seeing him in the Eastern Bays for consultations. Alan is enjoying the village atmosphere that St Heliers offers and is available two days a week in St Heliers. The rest of his time is spent at 9 High Street in the CBD.
Alan has been fortunate to have been mentored by some of the world’s pioneers and respected educators in the profession. His father Sid Saks continues to this day, a sterling career spanning sixty one years in practice. Sid was an early contact lens specialist for whom he holds great respect and is thankful for his passing on of his expansive experience, knowledge and skills. Alan also credits Des Fonn a highly respected international educator who taught Alan contact lenses at optometry school, supervised an award winning* final year thesis and instilled some of the passion and skills he has for contact lenses, education, presenting and conference organising.
*The Bausch and Lomb award for outstanding achievement.
Alan Saks joining Grant Watters at Mortimer Hirst and combining their specialty skills, knowledge and extensive experience, will ensure Mortimer Hirst remains a leading New Zealand independent practice which specialises in contact lenses.
- 1978 - 1981 - Completed four year course in Optometry (Dip Optom) and three year Dispensing diploma at Technicon Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
- 1980 – 1981 – Editor of Six/Six, Optometric student magazine.
- 1980 – 1981 - President of South African Optometric Students Association.
- 1981 - Received a Bausch & Lomb award for outstanding achievement for a final year thesis regarding corneal neovascularisation with high and low water content contact lenses.
- 1981 - 1993 - Optometrist, Partner and Director of family firm Saks, Taylor & Brauer established by his late grandfather, JL Saks in 1920.
- 1982 - Present - Acts as consultant, writer, lecturer and involved in various protocol studies and pre-market trials for a number of leading contact lens manufacturers.
- 1983 -1985 - Served on education committee and acted as examiner in Clinical Optometry at Wits. Tech.
- 1985- 1993 - Wrote a regular column ‘In Contact’ for The South African Optometrist journal.
- 1985 - Present - Contributor to pharmacy and optometry based textbooks, newsletters and magazines.
- 1986 -1989 - Served on education committee in optometry at Rand Afrikaans University RAU, now Johannesburg University and acted as contact lens clinic supervisor/instructor/examiner.
- 1988 -1992 - Served on the editorial board of The South African Optometrist journal.
- 1989 – 1992 - Served three terms as President of the Contact Lens Society of South Africa
- 1990 - Achieved Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO).
- 1990 - Conference Chairman of Contact ‘90 International Contact Lens conference.
- 1991 - Achieved membership of the Royal College of Optometrists (MCOptom).
- 1994 – Present - Researches, writes and produces print and internet based In Contact column for the NZ Optics magazine.
- 1994 - Present - Member of New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO).
- 1994 - Present - Member of Cornea and Contact Lens Society NZ (CCLS).
- 1995 – 2007 - NZSCLP/CCLS Council member.
- 1995 – 2007 - Conference committee member for various NZSCLP conferences.
- 1997 - Present - Serves as a panelist for Asia-Pacific and International Advisory Panels for contact lens and solution manufacturers.
- 1998 - 2008 - Director of Barry + Beale Optometrists and Vigil Eyewear.
- 1998 - Present - Registered with Optometry Board Australia.
- 1999 – Awarded Fellowship of the New Zealand Society of Contact lens practitioners FCLS for contribution to New Zealand Contact Lens Practice.
- 1999 - Conducted clinical trial of the breakthrough silicone hydrogel contact lenses.
- 1999, 2002, 2004 - Lecturer in Contact Lenses: Theory and clinical practice and training of ophthalmology registrars in contact lenses.
- 1999 - Developed the NZSCLP/CCLS website www.contactlens.org.nz.
- 1999 - 2000 - Served on the editorial board of the International Contact Lens Clinic (ICLC) journal.
- 2000 - Present - Contributor to www.siliconehydrogels.org and forum moderator on www.odwire.org
- 2001 – 2002 - President of New Zealand Society of Contact Lens Practitioners (NZSCLP), now known as Cornea and Contact Lens Society NZ (CCLS).
- 2004 – 2008 - Member of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE).
- 2008 - Present - Presents extensively in Asia-Pacific region including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Institute (TVCI).
- 2008 - Presented & debated at British Contact Lens Association BCLA, Birmingham, UK.
- 2008 - Presented at the inaugural GKC 2008, Las Vegas, USA.
- 2009 - Presented at the 6th BCLA Pioneers Lecture at Royal Society of Medicine, London, UK
- 2009 - Present - Researches, writes, and produces a print and internet based column ‘Saks on Eyes’: for Insight News Australia www.insightnews.com.au
- 2010 - Investigator for Clinical Trial of Rose K2 XN lens design.
- 2010 – Presented at the GSLS, Las Vegas, USA
- 2010 - Presenter and co-organiser of speakers programme at EduVisionz, Sky City, Auckland.
Forthcoming SPEAKER engagements
- CCLS Queenstown, New Zealand
- AVC Gold Coast, Australia
- SRC Melbourne, Australia
- Cape Town, South Africa
- BCLA Birmingham, England
Recommended web sites
Mortimer Hirst’s web site.
View Alans articles on the NZ Optics web site.
Check out an intriguing site with a variety of optical illusions: Impossible shapes, ambiguous images & things that seem to move.
Login to a local podcast
Alan contributed to the Summit on Contact Lens Care, the result of which is the following publication: GUIDELINES FOR THE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE USE OF CONTACT LENSES. It contains some useful information.
You can view some more of Alan’s numerous contributions to contact lenses and eye care via Google links to a variety of local and international sites.