Professor Helen Swarbrick gained her optometric qualifications in New Zealand in 1974 and completed an MSc in Psychology in 1978. Following 8 years in private optometric practice in New Zealand and England, Professor Swarbrick took up a position as Research Optometrist at the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit, School of Optometry, University of New South Wales. In 1991 she received her PhD degree for a thesis on the topic of rigid gas-permeable contact lens adherence during overnight lens wear. In 1995 Professor Swarbrick was appointed to the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, with responsibility for contact lens education at the School, and has since been promoted to Professor. Professor Swarbrick’s current primary research interest is the corneal response to orthokeratology (or corneal refractive therapy) for the correction of refractive errors, and its role in myopia progression and control.  Recent research has aimed to develop a greater understanding of the visual and optical effects of orthokeratology.

In 2004, at the Second Global Orthokeratology Symposium (GOS) in Toronto, Professor Swarbrick was awarded the Rodger Kame Memorial Award in recognition of her efforts, innovation and research in the field of orthokeratology and corneal reshaping.  In 2011 Professor Swarbrick was presented with the Alan Bott Memorial Award Medal by the New Zealand Optometric Vision Research Foundation.  More recently, in 2012 Professor Swarbrick was awarded the Don Noack Award by the Orthokeratology Society of Oceania, and the Kenneth W Bell Medal by the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia, in recognition for her outstanding contributions to corneal and contact lens research and education.

Professor Swarbrick has attracted four consecutive Linkage Project research grants from the Australian Research Council (2004, 2007, 2010 and 2014), to conduct research in various aspects of orthokeratology. This ARC-funded research has been conducted in collaboration with industry partners Bausch + Lomb, Capricornia Contact Lens Pty Ltd and BE Enterprises Pty Ltd, and has investigated efficacy, mechanisms and safety of orthokeratology, the role of orthokeratology in myopia control, and the visual optics of orthokeratology.