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In what year did the following events occur?

The Queen opened the Sydney Opera House; the United States signed a peace treaty to end the Vietnam War; Secretariat won the Triple Crown, Lee Majors appeared as the Six Million Dollar Man and young engineer, Stephen Wozniak started work at Hewlett Packard and suggested they build something he called a ‘personal computer’– a suggestion they rejected.

The year was 1973. The Australian Journal of Ophthalmology published its first issue. The current issue of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology (CEO) marks the 40th year for the journal.

Charles Kelman had developed phacoemulsification just 5 years previously.1,2 Trabeculectomy surgery was in its infancy, and a young New Zealand ophthalmologist, Anthony Molteno, was developing an implant that would 1 day bear his name.3–5

In Australia and New Zealand, intracapsular cataract surgery under general anaesthesia was routine. Xenon arc photocoagulation for proliferative diabetic retinopathy was the standard of care, radial keratotomy was state-of-the-art refractive surgery, corneal laser surgery was science fiction, and anti-vascular endothelial growth factors weren't even a twinkle in a medical retina specialist's eye. Indeed, Donald Gass had just been appointed Professor of Ophthalmology the year before, the first ‘medical retina specialist’ on earth.6

Over time, the journal, in its several guises, has provided a revealing narrative of the institutions and the doctors that created it and contributed to it.

An example of this was in the first issue in which Ron Lowe wrote an insightfully mechanistic explanation of the efficacy of acetazolamide in the treatment of acute angle-closure glaucoma.7 In 1985, Fred Hollows gave the Council Lecture, published in Issue 1, Volume 13 (the first issue under the new name of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology).8 Alan McNab wrote an editorial in Issue 1 of Volume 20, 1992, asking the question: ‘Why Phaco?’, pointing out the market-driven aspects to surgical ‘progress’.9 Issue 1, Volume 28 was the first issue under the current title (CEO); Mark Gillies wrote an editorial about early neural degeneration in diabetic retinopathy in reference to a paper by Lieth et al., which has received almost 100 citations to date.10 Good-quality review articles continue to be well cited, and in recent years, have included reviews on keratoprostheses,11 endothelial keratoplasty12 and laser in situ keratomileusis.13

Although the journal CEO is sponsored by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, its editorial board, its contributors and its outlook are firmly international. Modern digital communication have allowed the journal to overcome the tyranny of distance. This has been to the advantage of both Australasian and international researchers. In the first issue, Reuben Hertzberg wrote ‘It is hoped that this journal will serve as a means of communication and education not only among ophthalmologists in Australia, but that its value and acceptance will be world-wide’.14 Now in 2011, with the inclusion of the journal's iPad app, our journal is available free all over the world. In its most recent issues, it has debated the systemic safety of bevacizumab and revealed previously unpublished data about landmark trials.15–17

We hope that it remains at its core a vehicle for the dissemination of great ideas in the treatment of blinding eye disease.

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

Thomas Jefferson

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