Appointments to the Optical Registration Board

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D., has appointed/re-appointed the following persons as members of the Optical Registration Board, on their election by the registrants of the designated profession(s), with effect from 23 March 2019 to 10 February 2023. 

Mr Owen Blee

Mr Blee is a Dispensing and Contact Lens Practitioner with qualifications in accounting and finance, with twenty years’ experience in supply chain and service delivery optics. From 2000 to 2005, he was an Executive member of COSI (Confederation of Optical Suppliers Ireland), and since 2005 has been a practice based Dispensing Optician/Director at two south Dublin optical practices. Since 2012 to present, he has served as an Executive Member for FODO (Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians). Mr Blee’s interests include promotion of eye health awareness to the public through national campaigns, dispensing, contact lenses, CPD and the education and training of Dispensing Opticians.


Mr Martin Crowe

Mr Crowe hails from Monaghan, and qualified as an Optometrist in DIT 1985. He worked in the UK for several years, gaining experience of Hospital Optometry, independent and multiple optometry, in the process.

He set up his own practice in Gorey, Co. Wexford in 1991, and his special interests include Low Vision, Contact Lenses, and Technology in Optometry. He has worked with the NCBI in the past, running their Low Vision clinics in Wexford and Kilkenny.

He serves on the Council of the Association of Optometrists of Ireland and acted as President of the AOI from 2014 to 2016.

He has acted as an Examiner in the Professional Qualifying Examinations run by the AOI, for many years.

Mr Declan John Hovenden

Following graduation from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)’s Optometry programme and awarding of Fellowship of the Association of Optometrists, Ireland (AOI), Mr Hovenden has practised as a qualified optometrist for over 25 years.

For much of that time, he worked as a clinical optometrist at an ophthalmology-led surgical centre, Wellington Eye Clinic, in Dublin specialising in refractive surgery; he was the first optometrist to receive the Certificate in Refractive Surgery (theory) from Ulster University in 2006.


In 2009, he returned to DIT to take up the role of Clinic Manager & Head Clinical Optometrist at the National Optometry Centre, the clinical training facility for optometry at DIT (now Technological University Dublin – TU Dublin). The centre delivers full-scope optometry services to the public while delivering the highest standards in clinical education to the university’s undergraduate and post-graduate students of optometry and ophthalmic dispensing. His patient-centric philosophy and approach has ensured that the best interests of the centre’s patients are kept at the top of the agenda for both service delivery and education provision.

In 2018 he was successful in being appointed to the position of Head of Optometry & Assistant Head of School of Physics and Clinical & Optometric Sciences at TU Dublin. As Head of Optometry, he oversees and manages all aspects of the university’s optometry function, programmes, and academic, clinical and research teams. The provision of undergraduate optometry education and training is the core activity of the department. The current BSc in Optometry programme is at the top tier of optometry education in Europe and continues to evolve in response to developments in eye care provision as well as to the needs of the public, changing demographics and the healthcare system.

He is keenly interested in the development and advancement of eye care provision, particularly in the primary care setting, and better integration of eye care services within the healthcare system. He is an active member of the Association of Optometrists, Ireland (currently sitting on Council), the European Academy of Optometry & Optics, Medical Advisory Committee of Global Vision (Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme), Royal Academy of Medicine, Ireland (RAMI). He has also been a member of the panel that recently reviewed the “North West Model for the Provision of Eye Care Services” for the HSE and has been invited to participate in the upcoming initiative by the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) to develop an integrated (hospital and community) model of care for ophthalmology.


Other qualifications that he holds are the Professional Certificate in Medical Retina (Ulster University) and an MSc in Health Informatics (Trinity College Dublin). He regularly contributes to the further education and CPD of optometrists both nationally and internationally.