The British Optical Association (BOA) was founded in February 1895 as the first professional body for ophthalmic opticians (optometrists) in the world. The British Optical Association Museum and Library was founded in 1901; it retains the BOA name but is now part of the College of Optometrists, located in Craven Street, Charing Cross, central London.
At a meeting called by Mr Robert Sutcliffe, a sight-testing optician of Rochdale, the BOA was formed and elected the distinguished London optician John Browning (scientific instrument maker) as its first President. The BOA ran the first professional examinations in optics in 1896 and campaigned over many years for the state recognition of the profession, finally achieving success in 1958 with the passing of the Opticians Act by Parliament. It operated a number of local associations across the UK and was responsible for establishing the Army Spectacle Depot during World War I and establishing the Joint Council of Qualified Opticians (JCQO) together with the Institute of Ophthalmic Opticians (IOO) in 1922. The BOA also provided the Secretariat for a number of other optical bodies including what would eventually become the Association of Optometrists and the International Optometric and Optical League (IOOL), known since 1995 as the World Council of Optometry.
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