Award for best clinical teacher in ophthalmology

29 August 2013

Auckland has one of the best clinical teachers in ophthalmology in the Asia-Pacific region.

This week, The University of Auckland’s Head of the Department of Ophthalmology Professor Charles McGhee, was told of his success in being chosen for the International Council of Ophthalmology’s (ICO) ‘Mark Tso Golden Apple Award’.

The ICO established the Golden Apple Award to honour the most dedicated teachers in clinical ophthalmology around the globe. This award is made each year for the best clinical teacher in ophthalmology in the Asia-Pacific region.

The presentation will be held at the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress (APAO) that is held in conjunction with the World Ophthalmology Congress 2014 in Tokyo, Japan in April next year.

Professor McGhee has made substantial contributions to ophthalmology in New Zealand both in research and teaching since he took up the Maurice Paykel Chair of Ophthalmology at The University of Auckland in 1999.  He built the clinical, research and teaching group in ophthalmology from five staff in 1999 to 55 staff and research students today.

Professor McGhee co-founded and is director of, The University of Auckland’s New Zealand Eye Centre which brings together more than 120 ophthalmologists, optometrists and vision scientists to collaborate on teaching and research into blinding eye diseases.

He has also expanded his reach to assist in ophthalmology training in Hong Kong, has been an Honorary Professor in Hong Kong, is an Honorary Professor in Zhongshan, and was scientific co-chair of the APAO Beijing conference and chair of the recent APAO-RANZCO conference in Sydney.

“This is a great honour and quite humbling in the context of the many excellent teachers we have in the Asia Pacific,” says Professor McGhee. “I relocated to New Zealand 14 years ago and have always enjoyed being busy teaching in ophthalmic and optometric circles throughout Australasia.”

“Over the last decade this has also led to wider teaching programmes and conferences in the Asia Pacific including in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and Thailand,” he says. “I am extremely grateful for this recognition and accept it on behalf of The University of Auckland team that has enabled me to pursue the development of research and teaching within the region.”

“The Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology  is the largest ophthalmology society in the Asia Pacific and includes about 50,000 members who are ophthalmologists and vision scientists. The International Council of Ophthalmology is a global body that promotes education, research and prevention of blindness – so this is a great honour for me, our team, and The University of Auckland,” he says.

Professor McGhee's clinical interests include corneal diseases such as keratoconus, corneal dystrophies, corneal transplantation, cataract surgery, post-traumatic and complex anterior segment (front of eye) surgery following trauma.

He has also developed multi-disciplinary approaches to the delivery of ophthalmic care and is directly involved in teaching and assessment of the Therapeutic Optometry course provided by The University of Auckland.  He recently worked closely with Health Work Force New Zealand to develop multi-professional eye care teams.

As an eye surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience Professor McGhee has completed thousands of cataract procedures and is one of the most experienced corneal surgeons in New Zealand – having performed more than 1000 corneal transplants.

In addition to his teaching and research roles, Professor McGhee is a busy senior ophthalmic surgeon at Auckland City Hospital.  His clinical practice is primarily based in the public sector, but he also provides private consultations and surgery at the Eye Institute on a weekly basis. He is regularly referred patients from eye surgeons throughout New Zealand and from overseas and has trained more than 20 international fellows in aspects of corneal surgery.

Among the many positions he holds, he is the director of the New Zealand National Eye Centre (NZNEC), (the largest eye research centre in New Zealand), and until recently was Editor of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ scientific journal.

For more information contact:

Suzi Phillips Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences,Communications The University of Auckland. Email

Professor Charles McGhee