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01 Jan 2010 | Australasian Dental Practice

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An optical innovator who changes the way the dental world is viewed

By William Robertson

Obituaries

It is with a heavy heart that I compose this tribute in memory of my good friend, Martin Xavier Hogan.


For most, Martin was largely an anonymous figure, but the Hogies brand he coined from his surname these days adorns the brows of the dental fraternity worldwide. The loupe mounting system he invented is, in a word, revolutionary.

I first became aware of Martin and his work in the early 90s while working as an optician. Back then, his eye protection was sold through the practice I worked in.

In 2002, a very enthusiastic Mr Hogan walked through the doors of Designs For Vision, the place I now work, with a concept frame called the MediView. This was the first time we met but it wouldn't be the last. It was also a watershed moment in the way dental magnification would be worn in the future.

At the time, head-borne diagnostic devices were carried on traditional spectacle frames that put the weight of the product on the wearer's nose, typically causing much discomfort. Martin's vision was to change this. His frame used magnets to attach different products with ease, while distributing the weight of the product around the head. MediView both modernised the look and revolutionalised the technology. Martin's invention was set to change the way these devices were worn around the globe.

In 2003, the FDI World Dental Congress came to Sydney along with several thousand dentists. It was the first time I was to work alongside Martin and it would be the first time the MediView concept would be on display to the world. In previous years, Designs For Vision had sold around 80-100 pairs of loupes a year on traditional frames to dentists. Over the 3 days of FDI Sydney 2003 alone, we sold 380 pairs of loupes mounted on the MediView frame! The booth was a circus and even today at every international show that Martin would attend, it was always the same. Those who have been fitted with loupes by us would know it is a lengthy process - so to turnover those numbers was an exhausting but exhilarating experience. This extraordinary event did not go unnoticed by other loupe manufacturers and the following week, Martin received calls from most of the major players in the loupe market. They all wanted to have their loupes fitted onto MediView. Since then, many companies have replicated Martin's design. There are now a plethora of imitations available and if "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", the loupe catalogues of all major manufacturers today pay homage to MediView's inventor.

Martin was not just an innovator however, he actively fostered change and had a lasting impact on the optical industry, domestically and globally. The optical industry in Australia changed because of the way he ran his business and across the world, the optical industry's diagnostic equipment changed as a result of the MediView design. The impact of his vision extends beyond the dental industry to broader surgical disciplines; even NASA has used his products in their space program.

The impression Martin made upon the world was not just limited to his designs. When I found myself working alongside Martin, I could not help admiring him - the pleasure and pride he had in his work, the wealth of knowledge he clearly loved to share and the expertise he showed when educating doctors in magnification. As our friendship grew, his influence extended beyond the way I sold loupes and into how I lived my life. A man of Martin's character is one that I could not help but be influenced by. I am a better man today for having known Martin and enjoying his friendship for an all too short a time.

In the mere seven years I knew Martin, he has shown me a way to live that I can only aspire to. Even though in his late sixties and having had five heart bypasses, he was filled with so much enthusiasm for life and his many passions.

Martin treasured his family and the sense of belonging they gave him; he often expressed that some of his most precious moments were spending Christmas at the farm with his wife, children and grandchildren.

Martin's farm had a vegetable garden where he grew grapes for wine making. I recall tasting it a few years ago and in this area, he could be considered an innovator too; whatever I was drinking tasted nothing like wine!

And so it was on Saturday, 2 January 2010 at his farm near Melbourne, while tending to the garden in the place he felt so at home, Martin had a heart attack and passed away.

I am sincerely honoured to be able to write this tribute to the man I loved like a father and will miss for evermore.

R.I.P. Martin Xavier Hogan
7 March 1941 - 2 January 2010

Martin's son, Jason, who has worked side by side with his dad for many years, will continue to run Hogies Pty Ltd.

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