A Career Impacting Millions Honoured at Winston Park

Alan Tomlinson’s Honorary Doctorate marks remarkable achievement

By Kristian Partington

Alan Tomlinson literally changed the way millions of people across the planet see the world around them. In honour of his years of dedication to the field of optometry as a leading researcher on corneal physiology, the University of Waterloo chose to bestow upon Alan the honorary title of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, at the 2016 convocation ceremony this spring.  

Alan Tomlinson on stage shaking hands with the president of the University of Waterloo

When the team at the Village of Winston Park heard about the honorary degree, they felt it worthy of a village celebration as well, and so it was that the village family gathered there on Aug. 2 to mark Alan’s distinguished career.

“Everybody was so happy for him,” says Alan’s wife, Daphne McCulloch. “He said he was very pleased and thankful that he had a chance to celebrate his achievements with his friends at the Village of Winston Park.”

Alan, Daphne says, has made a remarkable recovery after surviving a serious stroke in 2013 that affected his mobility and vision, so watching him stand to receive his degree and shake the hand of vice chancellor and university president Feridun Hamdullahpur was a great source of pride for both Alan and his loved ones.

“We’re just so proud of him and it’s really nice to see his career honoured,” says Daphne, who explains that Alan’s work and research on the surface of the human eye has impacted delveopments in eye care, especially for people who wear contact lenses.

“(Alan’s) lifetime studying the pathophysiology of dry eye and the pathogenesis of corneal infections associated with contact lens wear has influenced countless academics, students, thought leaders and the contact lens industry at large,” the gathered audience of graduates and family members heard during the convocation ceremony.

“His work on dry eye diagnosis, the impact of osmolality on ocular surface health and the impacts of treating tear film evaporation remain seminal for current researchers. His contributions to understanding the development of toric contact lenses, dry eye products and the impact of reduced oxygen on corneal health has resulted in improvements to countless products that are used by millions of patients around the globe every day.”

In short, millions feel Alan’s influence every day, and it’s fitting that such a career is celebrated.

“It was really nice of (the team) to suggest and organise a celebration,” Daphne says.