British Guild secretary, Marc Aird, was appointed International Guild secretary, a post he held until his retirement in 1978 when he was succeeded by Tony Westhead.
It was around that time that the Canadian and New Zealand Guilds joined the International Guild. The South African Association first sent an observer in 1994 and also subsequently joined. The Malaysian Association of Practising Opticians (MAPO) joined briefly in the mid 1990s but around 1996, withdrew as they did not feel membership was of benefit to them. Today, MAPO is back on board.
Australians are also stalwarts of the membership. The International Guild’s biennial conventions move around each of the member countries in turn, usually taking place in the country of the sitting president. Due to one move to the Southern Hemisphere there was a three-year interval rather than the usual two. A further interval of three years took place between the conventions of 1998 and 2001, partly to enable the IOA (as it was known by then) to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2001.
The UK organising committee for the 1990 convention decided to make its programme much more formal than in previous years with the introduction of workshops, seminars and lectures. This proved successful with delegates and it was requested that this format be continued along with an active social content. In New Zealand in 1994, a new ‘Mem & Arts’ was adopted which incorporated a change of name to the International Opticians Association. New by-laws were written and they, and the new title, officially took effect in the USA in 1996.
As previously stated, the UK has provided the central secretariat since its inception – financed and provided by the Guild, then its successor the Federation of Optical Corporate Bodies (FOCB) and then, in turn, its successor the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO). With the retirement of Tony Westhead, FODO was unsure of its role within the IOA, possibly because by then it was, and is, closely involved with the protection and advancement of optometric businesses as well as dispensing ones. Hence, ABDO took over provision of this role on 1 January 1997.