Researching the History of The New Zealand Contact Lens Society, has been a fascinating if somewhat prolonged exercise. Certainly it was a much longer task than I first envisaged. I wish to record my grateful thanks to all those people that have contributed to preserving records and making them available for this publication as well as offering helpful advice, on the composition of this book. It entailed considerable travel around the country, interviewing retired and present members of the Society, so that I was then able to collate all this information. The proofs were sent to many of these people for correction and verification; to them my thanks and also thanks to the Council of the Society for financial help with travel and the publication of the book.
There have been three name changes during the course of these 50 years, mostly to keep up with modern technology as well as changes in knowledge and expertise that practitioners have had to acquire. I have retained the original name, The New Zealand Contact Lens Society; as this is the name most professional and lay people, readily identify the Society and contact lenses with. The present name is the Cornea & Contact Lens Society (CCLS). I make no apology for the detail in the five decades, as after all this is a history of a Society and these facts need to be documented as accurately as possible and published so that they are available in later years. For those of you who regard reading through all the decades as a tedious exercise, I have summarised two 25 year periods for faster reading. This has been a wonderful trip down memory lane for me and I am sure will be for other older Society members.
The early New Zealand contact lens scene followed the English model; later a very close alliance developed with our Australian colleagues, so close, that Combined and International Conferences were held every three years, commencing in 1978. As practitioners’ knowledge increased and became more sophisticated and their horizons expanded, many of them went to visit other countries particularly the United States. Paralleling this was our fledgling manufacturing industry which was also increasing in size and stature. These firms contributed greatly in sponsoring our conferences, and bringing noted speakers to our shores. Some of these speakers were aligned with or employed by these companies, but this in no way detracted from the quality of information that was presented; in fact it usually enhanced it. Being so far from the large international scene and being such a small market, we did lean heavily on these companies for this service.
It is evitable that in such a time span, some information has been lost, so that there are periods that have been glossed over, and probably some important facts have been missed; for this I apologise. Some people may have either factual evidence or can remember it (this I doubt) but it was not forthcoming. I did make several pleas for any past records, photos or other memorabilia to be sent to me, but few replies were received. Perhaps these missing links could be inserted into a Second Edition! To those of you, who have sent information and photos, thank you. One particularly valuable source has been, Maryanne Dransfield from New Zealand Optics, who has a wealth of information and significant photos about the New Zealand contact lens scene, in fact the whole ophthalmic/optical scene. The Society goes into its Jubilee year with a strong membership, a solid financial backing and a hard working council led by a respected President, Dr Trevor Gray. There will no doubt be further challenges as time goes by, but there should be no problem meeting and solving these.
David Sabiston Napier New Zealand 2007