About the Author


Barry Cole was the foundation Professor of Optometry at the University of Melbourne and is now Professor Emeritus. He was also the Director of the Australian College of Optometry from 1964 to 1998. He has long had an inclination to history and tended to regale his students with the historical origins of present knowledge when teaching vision science and optometry. His interest in history was fostered by studying history and philosophy of science and history of art in a never competed BA degree. On retirement he became a volunteer archivist in the Cyril Kett Optometry Museum.


Q & A with Barry Cole

Q&A with the Author Emeritus Professor Barry L Cole, 81 years old, married to Jean, formerly Jean Colledge, long term Secretary to ACO Council from 1964 to 1994 (she gets quite a few mentions in the book - yes an office romance!), 3 children (none of them optometrists), 2 grandchildren, lives in Hawthorn East, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs

1. What does the initial L stand for? Were you named after anyone?
Leighton. Sounds pretty posh, though it is pronounced Leeton and not the proper English, Layton. My mother's family spent time in Walhalla during the gold rush before moving to Kalgoorlie about 1900 chasing new gold when Walhalla started to run out. Her family was friendly with the Lee family who were well known in Walhalla (one of them, Charles Gordon Lee (1877-1940) was THE photographer of the town, and published a book in 1970. The Lees also moved to Kalgoorlie. Maybe my Mum had a crush on one of the Lees?!

2. Are you a Hawks supporter?
Goodness me, no. I might live in Hawthorn but I lived in Geelong from the age of 6 until I returned to Melbourne to go to University. My Dad was a secret St Kilda supporter despite living in and working as an optometrist in Geelong for 28 years.

3. Why optometry?
My Dad was an optometrist, and my school, Geelong College had no vocational advice to offer its students in the 1950s. It was just after World War 2 and in those days even private schools did not offer that sort thing. Kids went back to the family farm, joined their Dad in business or their dad fixed a job for them with a friend or relative. Not many us finished matriculation and just a few went to University.

4. Did you ever have any famous patients?

5. What is your favourite item in the Kett Optometry Museum?
The ophthalmotrope, which is featured with a big picture in my book.

6. Who does the cooking in your household and what is your favourite thing to eat?
I give advice on the menu and offer lavish praise of the results of my wife's cooking. I make the tea and very good espresso coffee. Favourite thing to eat? Black Forest cake, which I get once a year for my birthday. In earlier days and for quite some years, David Cockburn, a man much featured in my book, and I had lunch together every week, a sandwich in my office, after which we adjourned to Genevieve's for coffee, Black Forest Cake with lashing of extra cream on the side

7. Do you have any pets?
Only my wife

8. Are you a fan of social media and if so, which?
What is social media? Email does me fine.

9. Which celebrity would you most like to meet and why?
Tanya Plibersek, Why? She is very attractive, very clever and speaks her mind, always so calmly and precisely.

10. How many countries have you been to?
Is there anywhere that you wish you had been or would still like to go to? One of the few virtues of academia is travelling to conferences and then spending some time in interesting places on the way to them and back. I think I can count over 30 countries, many more than once. However, I never got to the south and central American countries, nor Greenland, nor Iran, and none of the mysterious 'stan' countries, but I can live with that. Pity about Iran, I would like to have gone there.

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