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Ian L. Bailey, OD, MS, FBCO, FAAO
Member, Berkeley Optometry Hall of Fame

Ian L. Bailey

Ian L. Bailey was born in Melbourne Australia on December 22, 1940. He was educated at the Victorian College of Optometry of the University of Melbourne, receiving his Bachelor of Applied Science degree in 1962. There were five optometry graduates that year and two of these, Tony Adams and Don Mitchell, are already in the UC Berkeley School of Optometry Hall of Fame.

After two years in private practice, Ian and his wife Valerie sailed to England to pursue his further education in contact lenses. He became a graduate student instructor at The City University, London, for two years followed by 12 months at Indiana University where he obtained a Master of Science degree. In 1968, he returned to the Department of Optometry of the University of Melbourne as a lecturer and clinic director.

In 1972, Bailey began the Kooyong Low Vision Clinic at the Association for the Blind in Melbourne and his primary clinical interest shifted from contact lenses to low vision. In 1974, he left the Department of Optometry and became a senior research fellow at the Nation Vision Research Institute. In 1976, Professor Bailey joined the faculty at the University of California, School of Optometry.

Professor Bailey’s clinical and research interests have focused on low vision, clinical psychophysics, visual optics and vision ergonomics. He is perhaps best known for developing the Bailey-Lovie visual acuity chart with Jan Lovie-Kitchin. Their logMAR chart design principles standardized the visual task remained constant so that size remained to only significant variable from one level to the next. They also introduced the method scoring visual acuity in terms of logMAR. These chart design principles became the research gold standard for visual acuity testing. Bailey and Lovie applied the same principles to word reading and sentence reading charts. With several colleagues, Bailey also developed the Berkeley Rudimentary Vision test for measuring very poor visual acuity. Currently it is the standard test used for blind sports classifications by the International Paralympics Committee and the International Blind Sports Association.

As multi-center clinical trials were developing in ophthalmic research during the 1980’s, the severity or magnitude of ocular signs were being graded using 4-point integer scales. Bailey and colleagues showed that integer grading scales were inherently insensitive for detecting changes or differences. They advocated decimal interpolation between the integer exemplars, and this has become standard practice in clinical research.

Throughout his career Bailey consistently directed his energies towards improving the scientific and analytical foundations of clinical practice. He introduced many new procedures and clinical methods related to prescribing optical low vision aids. These included new clinically applicable methods for measuring the equivalent power of lens systems, determining the image location and the enlargement ratios of stand magnifiers, and measurement of the magnification of Keplerian and Galilean low vision telescopes. He introduced the Equivalent Viewing Distance approach to quantifying magnification. His research is related to visual functionality in low vision included work on mobility, face recognition, eye movements, reading performance, contrast sensitivity, illumination changes and visual field measurement.

Dr. Bailey has almost 200 publications in the scientific and clinical literature. Professor Bailey has received many awards recognizing his contributions to optometry and vison science. Some of his awards include Charles F Prentice Medal (2000), Glenn A Fry Award (1986), William Feinbloom Award (1994), all from the American Academy of Optometry, and an honorary DSc from the State University of New York (2005), the Pisart Award (2002) from the New York Lighthouse, and the International Society of Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation Award (2022).