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Biographical entry Cockburn, David Michael (1923 - 2016)


25 August 1923
Swan Hill, Victoria, Australia
26 September 2016
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


David Cockburn was an optometrist who combined private practice with a research and teaching career. He pioneered the use of many new techniques in his practice including slit-lamp biomicroscopy, mydriac fundus examination, binocular indirect aphthalmoscopy, and tonometry. His research interests included particularly glaucoma, but also the underlying health issues of patients in relation to their vision problems. Cockburn published 79 papers arising from his research, as well as topics such as why patients complain about their new spectacles. For many years Cockburn contributed to the optometry profession in leading roles in professional and teaching organisations, such as the Victorian College of Optometry, and in the establishment of the National Vision Research Institute of which he was inaugural Chairman for 17 years. He also was active in the campaign for legislative changes so that optometrists could use diagnostic drugs. For many years he served on the editorial board of Clinical and Experimental Optometry.



1943 - 1946
Career position - Served with the Royal Australian Navy
Education - Licentiate of Optometric Science (LOSc), Victorian College of Optometry
1951 - 1955
Career position - Member of Council, Victorian Division, Australian Optometrical Association
1951 - 2000?
Career position - In private practice, Hampton, Victoria
1953 - 1956
Career position - Member, Optometrists Registration Board
1954 - 1967
Career position - Member of Council, Victorian College of Optometry
1957 - 1969
Career position - Clinical instructor (part-time), Victorian College of Optometry
1963 - 1964
Career position - Mayor, Sandringham City Council, Victoria
1969 - 1998
Career position - Senior Academic Associate, Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, University of Melbourne
1972 - 1989
Career position - Foundation Chairman, Board, National Vision Research Institute
1973 - ?
Career position - Member of Council, Victorian College of Optometry
Award - Life Member, Victorian College of Optometry
1975 - 1990
Career position - Chairman, Board of Continuing Education, Victorian College of Optometry
Career position - Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Education - MScOptom, University of Melbourne
Award - Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of service to optometry
1985 - 1990
Career position - Member, Optometrists Registration Board
Award - DSc honoris causa, University of Melbourne
1999 - ?
Career position - Associate Professor, Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, University of Melbourne
Award - J. Lloyd Hewett Award, Optometric Vision Research Foundation
Award - Honorary Life Member, Victorian Division, Optometrists Association Australia

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Cockburn, D. M., 'Profile: Jonathan Nathan DSc: educator, clinician and research leader', Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 84 (2003), 91-3. Details
  • Cole, B. L., 'David Michael Cockburn OAM: Educator, entertainer, innovator, legend', Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 86 (2003), 57-62. Details



  • Cole, Barry L., A history of Australian optometry: two hundred years of beating the tyranny of distance and fighting political battles to find new roles and a new place in health care (2015)
    Cockburn, David M., Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 99, (2016), 296. Details

See also

  • Cole, Barry L., 'A short history of the Australian College of Optometry 1940 - 2015', Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 98 (2015), 411-9. Details
  • Gutteridge, Ian F., Douglas, Ian S. and Anjou, Mitchell, D., 'David Cockburn OAM MScOptom DSc (Honoris Causa) FACO 25 August 1923 - 26 September 2016: a tribute to David Cockburn, a consummate clinician and educator', Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 100 (2017), 399-401. Details

Helen Cohn