16 October 2022

Professor George Dallas Miller MBE FCOptom DCLP: 1928-2022

We are saddened to report the death of Professor George Dallas Miller MBE.

George Miller, who died recently at the age of 94, was a great pioneer for optometric development in Scotland and across the UK during his time at The College of Optometrists and the General Optical Council.

He was born and raised in Paisley, Scotland, educated at Paisley Grammar school, where he became head prefect - a sign of things to come. He was the youngest of four brothers and after leaving school joined the Army to do his National Service where he attained officer rank. On leaving the Army, he embarked on training to become an ophthalmic optician. As a young man he was a keen football fan and followed St Mirren FC; later his pastimes included golf, curling and frequent visits to his holiday bolt-hole at Ardentinny, Argyll.

Whilst recovering from tuberculosis in Hawkhead Hospital he met a young nurse, Winnie Bradford, who cared for him. They married in 1954, remaining best friends and soulmates until his recent passing. They had three sons: Keith (1955), Ewen (1957) and Graham (1959). Sadly, tragedy befell the family when Keith died from neuroblastoma in 1959.

George qualified in ophthalmic optics under the Scottish Association of Opticians (SAO) and was first registered to practise in April 1961. Having briefly experienced working in a city centre venue, and then in a small country town, he decided to accept the challenge of establishing an optical service at Glasgow Eye Infirmary. Within a few years the team had expanded to four and their remit developed to include a low vision clinic and contact lens service. Over his 33 years as Principal Optometrist for the Greater Glasgow Health Board, optometry services spread to other major city hospitals and were staffed largely by those who had had trainee experience under his supervision. The appointment of a forward thinking Professor of Ophthalmology saw integration of medical eye units and the recognition of how much an optometrist could contribute in the Hospital Eye Service.

George‚Äôs gregarious, charismatic personality allowed him to negotiate at many levels. He was universally respected by his peers for his clinical skills, his intellect and ability to stimulate discussion. 

He was active with the local profession through the Glasgow Opticians Association and as a Governor of the Glasgow College of Technology, and rose to become President of the SAO from 1968-1971. He was then appointed as a Joint Board examiner and SAO representative on the Joint Committee of Ophthalmic Opticians (JCOO), sat on the Optical Whitley Council and was Chairman of the Scottish Contact Lens Society, whilst founding a small private practice in Paisley. He was Chairman of the joint Scottish and International Optometric and Optical League Congress held in Edinburgh in 1975, the year that the IOOL was reconstituted, and was a Scottish representative on the Provisional Council which oversaw the formation of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists) from 1977-1979, then serving as a Member of the College Council from 1980-1998, including a two-year term as President from 1984-1986. In later years, he sat on the General Purposes and Professional Advancement & Standards committees. He also served on the GOC as the joint appointee of the three examining bodies from 1973 and as a College appointee from 1983-1998. George was appointed MBE in 1978, a Visiting Professor at Glasgow Caledonian University in the late 1990s and a Life Fellow of the College in 1999.

He achieved so much during his professional career, but his proudest achievement would be the leadership, enthusiasm and endeavour he provided throughout discussions in the late 1970s that led to the amalgamation of the various examining bodies and the establishment of The College of Optometrists. He was a true pioneer and innovator for optometry across the UK, was actively involved in all aspects of optometric development and fully supported the transition and implementation of the GOS arrangements that transformed Scottish Optometry in 2006. 

An excellent communicator, he lectured widely on various optometric subjects and was most entertaining as an after-dinner speaker. Many will be more than happy to claim that they stood proudly on his broad shoulders.

George is survived by his wife Winnie, sons Ewen & Graham and his beloved grandchildren Grant and Johana.