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Published: 14.09.2017
Story: The ICO completes 160 years, Image: Eye Exam in Colombia
Eye Exam in Colombia by Fernando Yaacov Pena for #StrongerTogether photo competition

The International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) marked 160 years working to improve eye health worldwide on 13 September 2017.

The organisation’s roots were first planted in 1857 when ophthalmologists from 24 countries convened in Brussels for the first International Congress of Ophthalmology. Later re-named the World Ophthalmology Congress® (WOC), it is the longest continuous international medical meeting.

In the years since, the ICO has grown to be the primary international consortium representing and serving 155 national, regional and subspecialty associations of ophthalmologists. The ICO works with professional ophthalmologic societies, non-governmental development organisations (NGOs) and related organisations worldwide to enhance ophthalmic education, increase access to high-quality eye care, and to preserve and restore vision. Together, we are building a “World Alliance for Sight.”

More than 22,000 ophthalmologists in 80 countries have taken ICO Examinations to evaluate their knowledge or meet requirements in their countries to practice ophthalmology. The ICO Fellowships, Exams, WOC, Center for Ophthalmic Educators, and Teaching the Teachers Initiative, provide thousands of emerging and established eye care leaders with educational resources and a strong network to further their efforts.

Through the ICO Fellowships programme, more than 800 ophthalmologists from low-resource countries have been provided invaluable opportunities to increase access to eye care in their countries.

The ICO has also played a key role in the establishment of the Magrabi–ICO Cameroon Eye Center, a regional training center in Yaoundé, Cameroon – the only regional subspecialty training center in Francophone Africa.

“Thanks to the dedication of ICO Members and partners over the past 160 years, we are proud of the impact we have been able to have and the important role we play in helping to improve eye care and so reduce blindness and vision loss around the world,” said ICO President Hugh Taylor, AC, MD.