As we come to the end of 2017 inevitably there is reflection, especially as we close FMO’s centenary year and look forward to next year’s historical milestone – 40 years of Optrafair. But the link between professional education and the supply of ophthalmic goods and services goes back much, much longer.

Optics is a small and complex sector, and the developing education and training of optical practitioners was, in the early days inextricably linked with the development of technical innovations, coming together in conferences with their own exhibitions.

In 1929 the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers held its 300th Anniversary Conference at what was then Northampton Polytechnic (now City University) with 40 members of FMO’s founder body (the Association of Wholesale and Manufacturing Opticians) exhibiting, and lectures from optical educators who bridged the gap between industry and the profession.

In 1933 AWMO provided an instrument exhibition at a convention where many outstanding thinkers of the day lectured. A hot topic was bifocals, their wearability and even their potential use in arresting childhood myopia.

Yet today’s Optrafair is where the industry and the profession come together in the same way as they did 100 years ago, with our members offering a comprehensive programme of accredited continuing education and training to many thousands of practitioners over three days, both on-stand and in sponsored lectures and workshops led by today’s ‘great thinkers’.

Much has changed, but it remains the case that it is FMO’s members who provide the products and services which enable the operation by optical professionals of the UK’s eyecare business.

I wish all Optician readers a prosperous 2018.