Alan Saks

Alan Saks is an optometrist and contact lens specialist. As well as conducting general optometric services such as eye examinations and children's vision, Alan specialises in keratoconus and complex contact lens fitting and management, often on referral from local and international colleagues and eye surgeons. This includes advanced contact lenses utilising his own SAKS design and a variety of proprietary designs for keratoconus, regular and irregular astigmatism, hyperopia, myopia, aniridia, ocular albinism, nystagmus, strabismus and various other conditions.

Alan was influential in the shift to single use disposable contact lens practice (daily disposable contact lenses), being one of the first to recommend and prescribe such modalities and continues to educate around the world on such concepts. He performs regular clinical trials and pre-market evaluations for a variety of soft-lens and specialty rigid gas permeable designs for leading manufactures. He utilises customised contact lenses manufactured in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, UK, Holland, US, Canada and Japan to suit the specialised cases he is referred.

Alan and the clinical team at Mortimer Hirst are some of the few remaining practitioners who are able to modify, re-power and polish rigid gas permeable lenses in-house, often in the course of an annual contact lens consultation.

Alan is an early adopter of the management of dry eye, ocular surface and tear film problems and utilises a variety of diagnostic aids and treatments including diet, supplements, environment, make-up and cosmetic modification.

He uses advanced technology such as corneal mapping (topography), and imaging techniques to help perfect contact lens designs, to enhance vision and maintain long term safety and corneal integrity.

Alan is a third generation optometrist, a member of the Royal College of Optometrists and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. He served three terms as President of the Contact Lens Society of South Africa, two terms as President of the New Zealand Society of Contact Lens Practitioners (now CCLS) and was honoured by an inaugural fellowship. He is a consultant to the international contact lens industry and author of the monthly columns In Contact (NZ Optics) and Saks on Eyes (InsightNews Australia). Alan lectures and presents keynote presentations around the world at international conferences. Alan served on the editorial boards of the journals; International Contact Lens Clinic and The South African Optometrist.

Alan joined Barry + Beale Optometrists in 1996 and was a Partner and Director of Barry + Bale and Vigil Eyewear from 1998 to 2008.

In early 2011 Alan joined Mortimer Hirst an iconic, independent practice who has earned a solid reputation for providing expert clinical eyecare, specialists in contact lenses and a destination for service and handpicked eyewear collections. The original practice is located in the same premises as when it first opened; the fashionable 9 High St, Auckland CBD, with a second practice at 3 St Heliers Bay Rd, St Heliers, Auckland. A pioneering contact lens practice, Mortimer Hirst has been instrumental in the development of contact lenses in New Zealand, fitting them since the late 1940s and manufacturing both hard and soft lenses on site at 9 High St until 1978. Mortimer Hirst continues to have an in-house contact lens laboratory for rigid lens adjustments.

Mortimer Hirst was the ideal practice for Alan to continue his specialty career. Business partners Grant Watters and Naomi Bicheno where delighted to have Alan join the professional team and continue the tradition that Mortimer Hirst is renowned for.

Patients now have the option of seeing Alan in the Eastern Bays for consultations; Alan is available two days a week in St Heliers. The rest of his time is spent at 9 High Street in the CBD.

Alan has been fortunate to have been mentored by some of the world's pioneers and respected educators in the profession. His father Sid Saks continues to this day, a sterling career spanning sixty-three years in practice. Sid was an early contact lens specialist for whom he holds great respect and is thankful for his passing on of his expansive experience, knowledge and skills. Alan also credits Des Fonn a highly respected international educator who taught Alan contact lenses at optometry school, supervised an award winning* final year thesis, and instilled some of the passion and skills he has for contact lenses, education, presenting and conference organising.

*The Bausch and Lomb award for outstanding achievement.

Alan Saks' joining the clinical team at Mortimer Hirst, combining their specialty skills, knowledge and extensive experience, will ensure Mortimer Hirst remains a leading New Zealand, independent practice, specialising in contact lenses.


  • 1978 - 1981 - Completed four year course in Optometry (Dip Optom) and three year Dispensing diploma at Technicon Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
  • 1980 – 1981 – Editor of Six/Six, Optometric student magazine.
  • 1980 – 1981 - President of South African Optometric Students Association.
  • 1981 - Received a Bausch & Lomb award for outstanding achievement for a final year thesis regarding corneal neovascularisation with high and low water content contact lenses.
  • 1981 - 1993 - Optometrist, Partner and Director of family firm Saks, Taylor & Brauer established by his late grandfather, JL Saks in 1920.
  • 1982 - Present - Acts as consultant, writer, lecturer and involved in various protocol studies and pre-market trials for a number of leading contact lens manufacturers.
  • 1983 -1985 - Served on education committee and acted as examiner in Clinical Optometry at Wits. Tech.
  • 1985- 1993 - Wrote a regular column 'In Contact' for The South African Optometrist journal.
  • 1985 - Present - Contributor to pharmacy and optometry based textbooks, newsletters and magazines.
  • 1986 -1989 - Served on education committee in optometry at Rand Afrikaans University RAU, now Johannesburg University and acted as contact lens clinic supervisor/instructor/examiner.
  • 1988 -1992 - Served on the editorial board of The South African Optometrist journal.
  • 1989 – 1992 - Served three terms as President of the Contact Lens Society of South Africa
  • 1990 - Achieved Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO).
  • 1990 - Conference Chairman of Contact ‘90 International Contact Lens conference.
  • 1991 - Achieved membership of the Royal College of Optometrists (MCOptom).
  • 1994 – Present - Researches, writes and produces print and internet based In Contact column for the NZ Optics magazine.
  • 1994 - Present - Member of New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO).
  • 1994 - Present - Member of Cornea and Contact Lens Society NZ (CCLS).
  • 1995 - 2007 - NZSCLP/CCLS Council member.
  • 1995 - 2007 - Conference committee member for various NZSCLP conferences.
  • 1997 - Present - Serves as a panelist for Asia-Pacific and International Advisory Panels for contact lens and solution manufacturers.
  • 1998 - 2008 - Director & co-owner of Barry + Beale Optometrists and Vigil Eyewear.
  • 1998 - Present - Registered with Optometry Board Australia.
  • 1999 – Awarded Fellowship of the New Zealand Society of Contact lens practitioners FCLS for contribution to New Zealand Contact Lens Practice.
  • 1999 - Conducted clinical trial of the breakthrough silicone hydrogel contact lenses.
  • 1999, 2002, 2004 - Lecturer in Contact Lenses: Theory and clinical practice and training of ophthalmology registrars in contact lenses.
  • 1999 - Developed the NZSCLP/CCLS website
  • 1999 - 2000 - Served on the editorial board of the International Contact Lens Clinic (ICLC) journal.
  • 2000 - Present - Contributor to and forum moderator on
  • 2001 – 2002 - President of New Zealand Society of Contact Lens Practitioners (NZSCLP), now known as Cornea and Contact Lens Society NZ (CCLS).
  • 2004 – 2008 - Member of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE).
  • 2008 - Present - Presents extensively in Asia-Pacific region including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Institute (TVCI).
  • 2008 - Presented & debated at British Contact Lens Association BCLA, Birmingham, UK.
  • 2008 - Presented at the inaugural GKC 2008, Las Vegas, USA.
  • 2009 - 6th BCLA Pioneers Keynote Lecturer at Royal Society of Medicine, London, UK & Skiconf presenter Val Gardena Italy.
  • 2009 - Present - Researches, writes, and produces a print and internet based column 'Saks on Eyes': for Insight News Australia
  • 2010 - Investigator for Clinical Trial of Rose K2 XN lens design.
  • 2010 – Presented at the GSLS, Las Vegas, January USA & Skiconf Rusutsu Japan.
  • 2010 - Presenter and co-organiser of speakers programme at EduVisionz, Sky City, Auckland.
  • 2011 - Presented at Aspen USA January, CCLS Queenstown NZ, March, AVC Gold Coast AUS April, SRC Melbourne AUS May, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban ZA, August, GCLCS Seattle USA November,
  • 2012 – Keynote speaker at SRC Melbourne AUS May, presented at: NCC Veldhoven Netherlands March, Menicon Ophthalmology Series, Auckland, September, AAO/B+L Interactive Eye Health Center November, Phoenix AZ USA. Presenter, panelist, session chair and co-organiser of speakers programme at EduVisionz, Sky City, Auckland, October, Specsavers clinical conference Auckland November, Attended CCLS AUS, Sydney.
  • 2013 – Visit Menicon Miru Flat Pack manufacturing plant Singapore, attend CL Conference Sydney May, Presenter/panelist at SRC Melbourne AUS, June 2013, & TVCI Bangkok August.

A Selection of some of my Recent Publications:

  • Piggybacking high Dk Contact Lenses in Complex Cases; Netherlands 2009 (link)
  • Single-Use Lenses are the Best Modality for All of Our Patients; Contact Lens Spectrum USA August 2010 (link)
  • Guest Editorial: Tough Cases; Soft Special Edition Fall 2010 (link)
  • Challenging Cases: Soft Special Edition Winter 2011 (link)
  • NSIGHT Study; Review of Optometry USA June 2011 (link | link | link)
  • Global Contact Lens Care Summit: Seattle USA, November 2011 special edition conference summary Contact Lens & Anterior Eye (link)
  • Carpe Diem: Why the Time is Right For Daily Disposables, Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses USA March 2013 (link)
  • Global Vision: Evolution & Revolution, OPTICIAN UK March 2013 (link)

Recommended web sites
Mortimer Hirst’s web site.
Orthokeratology web site.
Grant Watters' web site.
Kerry Atkinson's web site.
Varny Ganesalingam's web site.
Emilie Langley's web site.
View Alans articles on the NZ Optics web site.