The New Zealand Association of Optometrists is an incorporated society whose objects include a commitment to high quality eye health care for all New Zealanders. The NZAO membership includes around 94% of the practising Optometrists in this country thus represents nearly all the primary providers of eye health services for New Zealand.
Optometrists who are members of the NZ Association of Optometrists are bound by professional ethics and clinical guidelines to provide the highest standards of eye health and vision care.
The New Zealand Association of Optometrists began in Wellington on 1 February 1912, when a small group formed the New Zealand Optical Association. Although the Association went into recess during World War I, it was revived in 1922 as the Institute of Optometrists of New Zealand Inc.
Another name change resulted from the Opticians Act 1928, which described an optician as any person who may employ any methods for the estimation of errors of refraction of the human eye and prescribe or adopt lenses to correct such errors. This meant the most commonly used word optometrist had no legal status, and the Institute of Optometrists became the Institute of Opticians of New Zealand on 1 January 1930.
In 1954 steps were taken to have the word optometrist included in the list of legal descriptions, and at the 1958 AGM the name of the Institute was changed to the New Zealand Optometrical Association. With the 1976 Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Act the term optometrist, previously optional, became obligatory. The 1989 AGM produced the current name New Zealand Association of Optometrists Inc.
Membership of the NZAO is voluntary and is open to all registered optometrists.
The NZ Association of Optometrists serves the following functions:
- provides continuing education for its members to ensure the highest clinical standards of care
- liaises with the government concerning the regulation of optometrists
- works with government departments, industry, and other stakeholders on standards related to eye health and vision, and vision standards,
- provides professional indemnity insurance for members to protect the public
- promotes the profession of optometry to raise public awareness of eye disease and preventable blindness
- provides an independent panel to investigate complaints against member optometrists...find out more
- supports the education of future members of the profession through a partnership with the School of Optometry and Vision Science at The University of Auckland.
- actively supports Voluntary Ophthalmic Services Overseas (VOSO), which provides eye care to Pacific Island countries
- is a full member of the World Council of Optometry and the Asia Pacific Optometric Council