Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Anthony CullenFormerly:
Professor of Optometry
Professor of Biology (cross-appointment)
Professor of Systems Design Engineering (cross-appointment)

DipOpt (Hons) (City, Univ of London), MSc (Sask.), OD (PCO, Salus Univ), PhDDSc (City, Univ of London), FCOptomFAAODipCLP

Email: acullen@uwaterloo.ca
Phone: (519) 746-4346


Dr. Tony Cullen was born in Lydd, on Romney Marsh, Kent, England and received his early education at St. Augustine’s RC Primary School in Hythe, Kent, and secondary education at the Harvey Grammar School (Founded 1674), Folkestone, Kent.

He is an honour graduate of the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, City University, London where he also earned his Ph.D. in Visual Science and Radiation Biology.  He completed a Master of Science degree in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Saskatchewan and received his Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry (Salus University). He is also certified in the treatment and management of ocular disease.  In December 1995, the City University awarded him the degree Doctor of Science honoris causa.

On completion of his pre-registration year he spent three years in practice in Deal and Canterbury in England, followed by two years as an optometry officer with the Royal Air Force in Aden, South Yemen. During his term of service, he survived a serious wound from a terrorist grenade attack. Following a short appointment as the Senior Optometrist at the Northampton General Hospital (England) he immigrated to Canada in 1967.

He was a full-time Clinical Lecturer in Ophthalmology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Subsequently he rose through the ranks to Associate Professor at the University of Houston, Texas, where he also served as Chief of the Pathology Clinic.  He joined the University of Waterloo in 1978 and served as a Professor of Optometry with cross-appointments as a Professor in the Departments of Biology and Systems Design Engineering.  He is a former Director of the School of Optometry and Associate Dean of Science. He was designated a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University in 2007. His primary teaching responsibilities were anterior segment eye disease, systemic disease and supervision in the Ocular Health Clinic.

Dr. Cullen is also a past-president of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the only European and second Canadian to be elected to this office.  He has also served on the Council on Clinical Optometric Care (American Optometric Association), the Examination Council of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (USA), the Council of the College of Optometrists of Ontario, and as a consultant to the Canadian Examiners in Optometry. He is a Life Fellow and holds the Higher Diploma in Contact Lens Practice of The College of Optometrists (UK). Dr. Cullen he has served as an advisor to optometric organizations and universities in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Malaysia, India and Nepal. He also acted as a consultant to international government agencies and industries.  He was an expert reviewer on optical radiation effects on the eye for both the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and was a delegate to the World Council of Optometry (WCO) where he was Co-Chairman of the Education Committee until 2003. He was Co-Chair of the Legislative and Standards Committee, and served on the Global Commission on Ophthalmic Standards. He represented the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) as a Director of the Canadian Board of Optometry Giving Sight (OGS), and was on the Board of AMD Alliance International.

He was named the 2001 International Optometrist of the Year by the WCO. Other honours include: The William Feinbloom Award (AAO, 2004), The Partnership Lecturer (AOP & SECO, 2005), induction into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in the USA (2006), the ORBIS Optometrist Achievement Award (Orbis Canada and Academy of Ophthalmic Education, 2007), the Cobean Memorial Award (OAO, 2007), the Eminent Service Award (AAO, 2007) and Life Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry (2013).

For more than forty years, his research activities included ocular circulation, angiography, contact lenses, and non-ionizing radiation effects. He acted as an authority on ocular environmental toxicology specialising in the effects of ultraviolet radiation on the eye and environmental safety issues, and served for ten years on the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), concerned with health effects of ozone depletion and climate change.

He has an extensive list of scientific and clinical publications, including key papers and textbook chapters. He has been a member of the Editorial Board or referee for more than twenty journals devoted to optometry, ophthalmology, optics, vision science, physics, photobiology and toxicology.  Dr. Cullen has been an invited lecturer in every Canadian province, the majority of the United States and more than thirty other countries worldwide.

Dr. Cullen is no longer active in research, teaching or administration.


  • Environmental toxicology of the eye (primarily ultraviolet radiation and sunlight effects)
  • Cataract
  • Aspects of industrial eye safety including use of contact lenses in the work environment
  • Development of optometric education and eyecare internationally

Former Ph.D. supervisor

Former clinic duties

  • Registered/ licensed optometrist (Ontario, Saskatchewan, Texas, UK)
  • Clinician, Ophthalmology, University of Saskatchewan
  • Supervising clinician, Optometry, Universities of Houston and Waterloo
  • Clinical interests: ocular disease
University of Waterloo

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