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IOA Stephenson Honorary Fellow Award

The Stephenson Honorary Fellow Award was established by the IOA Council of Management in honour of their former Deputy President and Council Member, Professor Gail Stephenson. Professor Stephenson devoted many hours to the service of orthoptics nationally and internationally. She achieved great distinction for her commitment to orthoptic education and the development of the profession.

This award recognizes the outstanding contributions and distinguished service made by an IOA member orthoptist to the profession of orthoptics at the local and international level. The award of Honorary Fellow is a cumulative award which will be submitted to stringent review by the IOA Council of Management and presented at a prestigious IOA function. It is an award of high order and will be rarely conferred. Consideration will be given to posthumous candidates.


Photo:  Professor Gail Stephenson, 28th July 1953 ~ 19th July 2015

Award Criteria
The orthoptist nominated for this award must have made an exceptional impact to the profession within IOA full member countries, associate member countries or within developing countries in which the IOA is assisting. There must be evidence of excellence and outstanding performance over a number of years in various aspects of orthoptics, e.g.:

  • Development and promotion of the profession

  • Exceptional service in an elected position over and above what is expected

  • Education of orthoptists

  • Pioneering work in orthoptics

  • Volunteer and humanitarian work

  • Exceptional advocacy related efforts on the state, provincial, territory or national level for

    the profession

  • Special service or specific effort for a cause that improves the quality of eye care

  • Other evidence of awards


Applications must include the following items:

  1. Completed nomination form made by an IOA member.

  2. Letter of support from the IOA member Country Association from which the candidate hails.

  3. Two (2) additional letters of support (e.g., individual with direct knowledge of the candidate’s work, letters from other organizations, etc.).


Application deadline
Completed application packets must be received by the IOA Secretary by 1st March 2020 at

Winners of this award were:

2018 Agneta Rydberg

2016 Cindy Pritchard

2018 - Agneta Rydberg

It is with pleasure that I announce that Agneta Rydberg has received the 2nd Stephenson Honorary Fellow Award 2018. The IOA Stephenson Honorary Fellow Award was instituted in 2015 in memory of Professor Gail Stephenson, former IOA Deputy President and Council member. Professor Stephenson devoted many hours of service of orthoptics nationally and internationally. She achieved great distinction for her commitment to orthoptic education and the development of the profession.

Agneta receiced the award on October 17, 2018 in Utrecht the Netherlands where the OCE education committee works the European Diploma for orthoptics.

Information about Agneta: Since qualifying as an orthoptist in 1975 in Moorfields London, Agneta has worked in several countries and has always been determined to further her knowledge and that of others. In 1998 she gained her PhD having presented and defended her thesis entitled " Clinical assessment of Visual Function" - with particular emphasis on testing models for small children. She has represented Scandinavia on the Council of Management of the IOA and for some years has been the Swedish representative on the OCE. Agneta is also an active reviewer of scientific papers and literature.

A skilled and devoted teacher she is highly respected by her students and staff at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm where she is head of the orthoptic programme which she helped to develop. Agneta has taken an active role in both IOA Congress organizing and scientific committees. In 2012 she was honoured by being elected to present the Burian Lecture at the Toronto Congress.

Agneta has never tired or backed down from life`s challenges, her energy, determination and dedication to our profession have helped many students to achieve their goals and also put orthoptics in Scandinavia well and truly on the map. She is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award. 

2016 - Cindy Pritchard

Cindy exemplifies the outstanding academic orthoptist, both nationally and internationally. After completing her training in orthotics and becoming triple certified as an Orthoptist, Certified Ophthalmic Technician and Certified Ophthalmic Surgical Assistant, Cindy became Chief Orthoptist and Director of Orthoptic Training at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute until 1992 when she moved to become Orthoptist and Ophthalmic Technician at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, as well as a clinical Instructor in ophthalmology at Tulane University Medical School. She has been a long standing member of the AACO as well as IOA since 1979 and a member of AAPOS and AAP as well. She has received multiple honors from AACO and AAPOS and more notably has presented the Scobee Memorial Lecture in 1992 and won the prestigious Lancaster Award from the AACO in 1995, both among the top awards available to an academic orthoptist. In addition, Cindy has made numerous important contributions to international orthoptics and ophthalmology as a member of The International Affairs Committee of AAPOS (a rare accomplishment for an Orthoptist) and as an elected IOA Representative from the American Association of Certified Orthoptists. During her tenure as an IOA representative, she developed and coordinated the IOA International Volunteer Orthoptist Program and served as Chairman of the International Relations Committee. During her tenure, she also co-hosted an American Orthoptic Council meeting and oral exam as well as an International Orthoptic Association Board of Directors meeting in New Orleans, a feat made more difficult because it ocurred only one day following a hurricane which hit New Orleans! And the meeting was a great success for both organizations due to Cindy’s outstanding organizational and collaborative skills.

Cindy has published widely in the American Orthoptics Journal as well as other prestigious peer reviewed ophtalmological journals and books.

In summary, Cindy Pritchard, through her strong academic performance in national and international orthoptics troughout her long career exemplifies the model Stephenson Honorary Fellow. She is extremely deserving of this award as one of the most outstanding orthoptists.