The SAOA is proud to announce that we will be commemorating our 100 Year Anniversary on March 31, 2024. To honour this significant milestone in our organization’s history, we are delighted to invite you to a grand conference taking place on July 18th, 19th, and 20th, 2024 at the prestigious Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, Gauteng.
This conference promises to be an exceptional opportunity for optometrists and dispensing opticians to engage with esteemed international and national speakers. Over the course of three days, our comprehensive educational program will offer delegates the chance to attend presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and poster presentations, all of which will be CPD accredited. Whether you choose to attend all three days or select specific days, you will undoubtedly benefit from the wealth of knowledge and expertise shared.
In addition to the enriching educational sessions, the conference will feature an expansive exhibition area showcasing the latest advancements in technology from various suppliers and stakeholders in the eye care industry. We strongly encourage practitioners to register their practice staff members, allowing them to attend presentations and explore the exhibition, ensuring they stay up to date with the cutting-edge developments in their field.
Furthermore, this conference will provide ample opportunities for delegates to network and socialize with their peers and industry leaders. On the evening of July 19th, the SAOA will host a glamorous Gala Dinner, where we will recognize outstanding practitioners through an awards ceremony, followed by an evening of delectable cuisine and captivating entertainment.
To stay informed about all the latest updates and developments, we encourage you to regularly visit our website and follow our social media pages. We look forward to welcoming you to this momentous event as we celebrate a century of excellence in the field of optometry and dispensing firstname.lastname@example.org
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On 29 July 2016, Ms. Zaheera Abdool became the first optometrist to have completed the required 600 hours to complete the Therapeutics curriculum.
On 11 March 2019, the SAOA submitted a 700-page dossier to the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), highlighting anomalies within the medical scheme environment. Of particular significance was the position of the SAOA advocating for optometric networks to be registered with the CMS.
In 2000, the Vision in Sight Trust (VIST) was launched by the SAOA, as an independent fund-raising entity to accommodate the eye care needs of needy patients as well as the financial needs of students. In its 14 years of existence, VIST was responsible for thousands of patients in need receiving eye health and vision care, in addition to several impactful eye care awareness campaigns.
In December 2014, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) announced that the scope expansion for optometrists to include the management of ocular diseases with the use of pharmaceutical preparations had been approved.
In 1977, the SAOA Coat of Arms was registered with the Bureau of Heraldry.
In 2015, the Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Act brought significant changes in the regulation of medical devices in South Africa (SA), which led to the categorisation of spectacle and contact lenses as registrable medical devices. The SAOA played a leading role, on behalf of Optometry, Dispensing Opticianry and Industry, liaising with the relevant authorities and providing guidance to all.
The first optometry degree to be offered in South Africa was at the University of the North in 1975, followed by the University of Durban-Westville (UDW) in 1979 and the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) in 1984.
In 1934, SA Optometrist, journal of the SAOA, was published for the first time, which brought world class research and clinical articles to SAOA members and readers around the world. In 2014, SA Optometrist was re-launched as the African Vision and Eye Health (AVEH) as a joint venture between the African Vision Research Institute, South African Optometric Association, and the African Council of Ophthalmology.
In 1960, the voluntary registration of optometrists was gazetted; the South African Optometric Association advised its members to register.
In 1927, the International Optical League (IOL) was formed, of which the SAOA was a founder member. (In 1995, the IOL was eventually renamed the World Council of Optometry).
In 1934, Pharmacists who dabbled in Optometry formed their own Association as they did not have the necessary qualification to join SAOA.
In 1940, the first record of a recommendation for a professional fee, for an eye test, came from the Cape branch, with a suggestion of seven shillings, and a sixpence.
As far back as 1941, the SAOA initiated engagements with the Cape Provincial Council for motor vehicle laws as visual acuity tests were not performed when issuing drivers licences. After many SAOA campaigns, it was in 1974, that the Department of Transport finally accepted, in principle, the concept of a comprehensive examination every two years for drivers. A new law was thereafter promulgated, effective from 1 March 1998, which stated that all drivers will need to have their licenses renewed, and their vision screened at least every five years.
In 1933, advertising was already controversial, and only collective advertising was permitted by the SAOA in certain provinces, at that time.
It is noted that advertising restrictions applicable to practitioners registered with the HPCSA (formerly, SA Medical and Dental Council) , including Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, were enforced over a period of time; in 2006, a degree of relaxation of the Ethical Rules pertaining to Advertising was introduced by the HPCSA , which differentiated between advertising, touting and canvassing, based on inputs submitted by interested parties, including the SAOA.
During the pandemic, as a result of strong and sustained representations by the SAOA on behalf of members, Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians were officially declared Essential Service Providers, enabling them to practice their professions during all restrictions. The Association went on to facilitate the rollout of Covid 19 vaccinations for Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians, and their staff.
In 1931, the Judgement in the Rex vs Saks case became internationally recognized as a basic recognition of the right to practice Optometry as a profession, including the charging of fees for services rendered. This judgement became noted and quoted as a landmark event in the History and Development of the Profession of Optometry Worldwide.
In 1964, the South African Optical Association officially changed its name to the South African Optometric Association. It is of interest to further note that our official Journal was already named, “The South African Optometrist” as of January 1934. In addition, our colleagues referred to themselves as Opticians, Ophthalmic Opticians (England) and/or Optometrists, amongst others.
In the words of Sidney Saks, “A ground-breaking event happened in 1971. While I was vice-President of the SAOA, I led a delegation of Professors of Optometry from America to Pretoria University to meet the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and the Professor of Ophthalmology, to dissuade them from establishing an Optometry department in the Faculty of Medicine”. The Outcome was that Optometry did not develop as a sub-department of Ophthalmology but could develop as an independent Profession.
As far back as 1941, engagement began with the Cape Provincial Council for motor vehicle laws as visual acuity tests were not performed when issuing drivers licenses.
In 1977, the blackening -out of windows of optometric practices was enforced, to prevent the inside of practices being visible to the public.
In 1975, the first optometry degree course was introduced by the (then) University of the North (now University of Limpopo).
In 1974, the Optometry Board deliberated the definition and scope of Optometry for the first time.
In 1970, the very first Professional Board for Optometry was Announced.
In 1964, the South African Optical Association became known as The South African Optometric Association.
In 1950, the then SA Medical Council registers Optometrists for the first time.
On 19 January 1935, the first branch of the SAOA was established in Cape Town.
In 1933, 6 optometry students passed the very first optometry examination, and joined the SAOA as members.
On Friday 31 March 2023, the SAOA began its countdown to its centennial celebration by celebrating its 99-year birthday. The SAOA President, CEO and staff met at the SAOA offices to celebrate, which included the cutting of special cake baked for the occasion, whilst SAOA Office Bearers, SAOA Members and key stakeholders around the country paid tribute and toasted the SAOA. Indeed, from a tradition of excellence, the force of the future.
On 31 March 1924, the SAOA was born in the boardroom of the Science and Technical Club, in Johannesburg, Gauteng. What an incredible journey it has been , a roller coaster ride, at times , but in 2023 , we stand strong and steadfast, and ready to negotiate the next 100 years. Indeed, from a tradition of excellence, the force of the future.
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