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Biographical entry Hollows, Frederick Cossum (Fred) (1929 - 1993)


9 April 1929
New Zealand
10 February 1993
New South Wales, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Hollows, Fred (Also known as)


Fred Hollows worked as a clinician in New Zealand for several years before specializing in ophthalmology. He moved to Australia in 1965 when appointed Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales. Throughout his career Fred Hollows was heavily involved in improving the health of Australia's indigenous and rural people. He helped establish the Aboriginal Medical Service and The National Trachoma and Eye Health Program. Hollows was also instrumental in reducing the cost of eye care in developing countries by setting up intraocular lens factories in Nepal and Eritrea. The Fred Hollows Foundation continues to support these and other projects.


After completing a Bachelor of Arts, Fred Hollows turned his attentions to the priesthood. He took up ecclesiastical studies in 1950, but after one year decided to withdraw. The next year Hollows began a medical degree in Dunedin, New Zealand and in 1961 specialized in ophthalmology. In 1965 he was appointed Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales. During his tenure at the University he became aware of the impact of trachoma (eye disease, leading to blindness, caused by Chlamydia trachomatis) on Australia's rural and Aboriginal populations. Because Australia is the only developed country in the world where this disease still exists, Hollows fought hard to establish a national treatment program. In 1975 the Federal Government and Australian College of Ophthalmologists set up the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program and appointed Hollows as its Chairman. Over a three year period this program screened 100, 000 Australians.

In 1985 Fred Hollows was awarded the Order of Australia but refused to accept it in protest to the poor state of Aboriginal Health. Hollows was also a consultant for the World Health organization and visited many third world countries. He recognised that most blindness disorders in these countries were due to the lack of basic medical treatment, and therefore preventable. Cataracts were the commonest problem in these countries. But the high price of surgery and replacement lenses (the intraocular lens) meant treatment was not an option for most people. Hollows raised money to establish Intraocular lens factories in Nepal and Eritrea to dramatically reduce this cost ( by around 70%). In 1992 he established The Fred Hollows Foundation which continues to support expansion of these and other projects. Fred Hollows died of cancer in Sydney on 10 February 1993.


1946 - 1949
Education - Bachelor of Arts (BA) completed at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand
Education - Ecclesiastical studies at the Glenleith Bible College in Dunedin, New Zealand
1951 - 1955
Education - Bachelor of Medicine (MB) completed at the University of Otago in Dunedin
1955 - 1956
Career position - Medical Intern at the Wellington Hospital
1957 - 1960
Career position - House Surgeon at Auckland Hospital
Education - Ophthalmology studies at Moorfields in the UK
1961 - 1964
Career position - Ophthalmic Registrar in Cardiff, Wales
1965 -
Career position - Associated Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales
Career position - Treatment of indigenous patients in Bourke, NSW
Career position - First Aboriginal medical centre in Redfern, NSW
Career position - Worked in South Australia
Career position - Director of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program (NTEHP)
Career position - Resigned from NTEHP
Career position - Consultant to the World Health Organization
Career position - Visited Nepal, Burma, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh
Career position - Visited Eritrea
Life event - Naturalised
1990 - 1991
Career position - Visited Eritrea twice, Nepal and Vietnam
Career position - Chair of the Division of Ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales, Prince of Wales and Prince Henry Teaching Hospitals
Career position - The Fred Hollows Foundation established in Australia
Career position - Intraocular lens laboratories established by the Foundation in Eritrea and Nepal

Published resources


  • Hollows, Fred and Corris, Peter, Fred Hollows: an Autobiography (Redfern: Kerr Publishing, 2006), 291 pp. Details
  • Hollows, Frederick C. and Corris, Peter, Fred Hollows: an Autobiography (Balmain: Kent Publishing, 1993), 269 pp. Details


See also

  • Dahlitz, Ray, Secular who's who : a biographical directory of freethinkers, secularists, rationalists, humanists and others involved in Australia's secular movement from 1850 onwards (Balwyn, Victoria: R. Dahlitz, 1994), 192 pp. pp.151-152. Details

Annette Alafaci