Grant Watters
Biography

Grant Watters is an Optometrist and Contact Lens Specialist.

As well as conducting general optometric services such as eye examinations, visual screening and children’s vision (paediatrics), Grant specialises in Keratoconus, OrthoK (Orthokeratology), complex contact lens fitting and management and contact lens troubleshooting often referred to him by Optometrist and Ophthalmologist colleagues. Grant regularly teaches and lectures on these specialised topics to optometry students, colleagues and to the optical industry, as well as performing research studies through the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS).

Grant Watters qualified as an Optometrist over 30 years ago, in 1983. After working for Barry and Beale in Auckland’s CBD, Grant travelled to the U.K to gain valuable overseas experience in a more diverse market. Upon returning to New Zealand Grant became a business partner at Barry and Beale. In 1987 Grant accepted the position of Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS), training and examining Optometry students.

In 1993 he completed the prestigious postgraduate Diploma in Contact Lens Practice from the British College of Optometrists in London and took on the position of Councillor for the New Zealand Corneal and Contact Lens Society, a position he held until 1996, and again from 2000 to 2006.

Grant purchased Mortimer Hirst St Heliers in 1995 and rebranded the practice Eyecare Cottage. In 1997 he completed his Optometry Master’s degree with a thesis researching aspects of the eye disease Keratoconus (conical cornea) and contact lens design for this eye disease.

In 2000 Grant was presented with a scholarship to study at the State University of New York (SUNY) Optometry School Postgraduate Programme, dealing mainly with co-management of glaucoma.

Returning to New Zealand Grant published a number of peer-reviewed journal papers on aspects of corneal disease and contact lenses and presented research papers at international conferences in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.

Grant was voted in as President of the New Zealand Corneal and Contact Lens Society in 2000 and held the position until 2002.

In 2003 Grant was awarded an honorary fellowship of the New Zealand Cornea and Contact Lens Society in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the society and advancement of contact lens education in New Zealand.

In 2005 Grant completed the New Zealand Certificate on Ocular Therapeutics, qualifying him to prescribe therapeutic medication for superficial eye infections, inflammations and allergies. In 2005 Grant was also promoted to Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS) teaching and lecturing in the areas of contact lenses and therapeutic drugs.

Grant's expertise in contact lenses has been utilised by the film industry, working with actors to fit and manage their special-effect contact lenses for major international films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy from 2003 to 2005 and in 2006 Simple Creatures to name just a few.

In 2007 Grant and his business partner Dispensing Optician Naomi Bicheno sold the St Heliers practice, Grant continued to work there looking after their speciality contact lens fitting, trouble shooting, OrthoK and training and teaching Optometrists within the group on these speciality areas.

In 2009 Grant and Naomi purchased Mortimer Hirst in Auckland’s CBD. An iconic New Zealand independent practice, Mortimer Hirst is one of the oldest optometry practices in Auckland and is located in the same premises as when it first opened in 1951, the fashionable 9 High Street in Auckland CBD. Mortimer Hirst has been instrumental in contact lenses, fitting them since the late 1940’s and manufacturing both hard and soft contact lenses on site, the contact lens manufacturing laboratory occupied three floors of the 9 High St building until 1978.

Mortimer Hirst continues to have an in-house contact lens laboratory for rigid lens adjustments and polishing. This ensures the clinical team can re-shape and polish complex contact lenses for patients with complicated prescriptions while they wait.

Grant continues Mortimer Hirst’s specialised contact lens business as well as expanding his own areas of expertise in Keratoconus, OrthoK (Orthokeratology), complex contact lens fitting and management, and contact lens troubleshooting, often referred to him.

OrthoK (Orthokeratology) also known as Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT) is a non-surgical form of vision correction. OrthoK is an ideal alternative to refractive surgery (Laser or Lasik Surgery) and for those who prefer not to wear contact lenses or corrective eyewear during the day.

OrthoK is the design and fitting of custom manufactured contact lenses for patients to wear whilst they sleep. The lenses gently reshape the cornea whilst on the eye and allow you to see clearly without the aid of conventional contact lenses or corrective eyewear when the lenses are removed. By reshaping the cornea, OrthoK lenses re-focus the light rays, making them focus properly on the retina as standard contact lenses and corrective eyewear do. OrthoK is a non-invasive procedure and completely reversible. If the OrthoK lenses are not worn for several nights, the elastic cornea will simply revert back to its original shape.

In 2010 Grant and Naomi purchased St Heliers Bay Optical, rebranded it to Mortimer Hirst and relocated it to new premises at 3 St Heliers Bay Road, re-establishing the Mortimer Hirst brand in St Heliers.

Grant continues to attend international conferences either as a guest lecturer or to ensure he is up to date with the very latest contact lens technology and clinical techniques so he can continue to provide solutions to patients with difficult problems.

He has now sourced the SynergEyes™ hybrid lens from California, a high oxygen transmission lens with a strong bonded rigid centre, but with a soft “skirt” for comfort. This lens has been highly successful in the U.S., Canada and now New Zealand for solving tolerance problems, particularly for Keratoconus and monocular corneal irregularities. Grant has fitted several hundred patients with the latest hybrid lens and has performed a research study through the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, University of Auckland (DOVS) on the tolerance and vision with this lens.

Grant has performed a number of research studies, the latest ones being Manuka Honey Therapy for eye lid diseases, comparing several different OrthoK lens designs and standardising treatment for Blepharitis.

Mortimer Hirst is currently the only practice in New Zealand chosen for a clinical research outreach programme for final year optometry students and for the recently established Clinical Master of Science in Optometry degree in contact lenses from the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS). Hence Grant manages undergraduate student projects and currently supervises a Masters student.

Grant continues to lecture and teach at the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS) and has guest appearances on the radio, speaking on contact lenses.

Overview

  • 1983 - Qualified as an Optometrist in New Zealand.
  • 1984-1986 - Worked in the United Kingdom to gain further experience in a more diverse market.
  • 1986 - Became partner in a leading Auckland CBD practice.
  • 1987 - Accepted the position of Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland, training and examining Optometry students.
  • 1993 - Completed the prestigious postgraduate Diploma in Contact Lens Practice from the British College of Optometrists in London.
  • 1993-1996 - Councillor, New Zealand Corneal and Contact Lens Society.
  • 1995 - Purchased a practice in St-Heliers named Mortimer Hirst and rebranded the practice Eyecare Cottage. 
  • 1997 - Completed his Optometry Master’s degree with a thesis researching aspects of the eye disease keratoconus (conical cornea) and contact lens design for this eye disease.
  • 2000 - Presented with a scholarship to study at the State University of New York (SUNY) Optometry School Postgraduate Programme, dealing mainly with co-management of glaucoma. 
  • 2000-2002 - President, New Zealand Corneal and Contact Lens Society.
  • 2000-2006 - Councillor, New Zealand Corneal and Contact Lens Society.
  • 2003 - Awarded an honorary fellowship of the New Zealand Cornea and Contact Lens Society in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the society and advancement of contact lens education in NZ. 
  • 2003-2005 - Worked on the set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to fit and manage all special-effect contact lenses.
  • 2005 - Promoted to Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland.
  • 2005 - Registered to prescribe therapeutic medication for superficial eye infections, inflammations and allergies.  
  • 2006 - Worked on the set of Simple Creatures to fit and manage all special effect contact lenses.
  • 2007 - Sold Eyecare Cottage.
  • 2009 - Purchased with business partner Dispensing Optician Naomi Bicheno, Mortimer Hirst an iconic independent practice located in the same premises as when it first open in 1951, 9 High St Auckland CBD.
  • 2010 - Grant and Naomi re established themselves back in St Heliers with a practice located at 14 Maheke St.
  • 2010 - Conducting a research study through the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, University of Auckland on the tolerance and vision with the new SynergEyes™ hybrid lens.
  • 2010 - Conference organiser for two of New Zealand’s largest optical industry conferences, Snowvision and EduVisionz the educational part of the Visionz conference and trade fair.
  • 2010-2011 – Overseeing undergraduate student projects through the Clinical Research Outreach Programme for final year optometry students from the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS).
  • 2011 – Research study on hybrid contact lenses and Manuka Honey Therapy for eye lid diseases.
  • 2012 – Study on Manuka Honey Therapy for eye lid diseases.
  • 2012 - Conference organiser for two of New Zealand’s largest optical conferences, Snowvision and EduVisionz the educational part of the Visionz conference and trade fair.
  • 2013 – Supervising a Clinical Master of Science in Optometry degree in contact lenses through the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS).
  • 2013 – Guest writer for N.Z.Optics publication.
  • 2013 - Research studies using Manuka Honey Therapy for eye lid diseases and OrthoK lens designs.
  • 2013 – Guest speaker at the Corneal and Contact Lens society conference.
  • 2014 (March) - Appointed Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland.
  • 2014 (Aug) – Snowvision Down Under Conference, academic programme co-organiser; co-presented Rose K workshop.
  • 2014 (Nov) - Appointed Honorary Academic, Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland (DOVS).
  • 2015 (Jan) – Completed a study on semi-scleral contact lenses and presented the results at the Global Contact lens symposium in Las Vegas.
  • 2015 (Jan) - Co-presented two Rose K workshops at the Global Contact lens symposium Las Vegas.
  • 2015 (March) – Presented a paper on contact lens telescope and a Rose K workshop Cornea and Contact Lens Society meeting in Queenstown.
  • 2015 (March) – Working with the New Zealand film industry to fit custom made special effect contact lenses.
  • 2015 (March) - Co-Supervision of a Clinical Masters student investigating OrthoK fitting.

Recommended web sites

www.mortimerhirst.co.nz
Mortimer Hirst’s web site.

www.orthok.co.nz
Orthokeratology web site.

alansaks.co.nz
Alan Saks' web site.

kerryatkinson.co.nz
Kerry Atkinson's web site.

varnyganesalingam.co.nz
Varny Ganesalingam's web site.

emilielangley.co.nz
Emilie Langley's web site.