In the 1960s the term "paediatric ophthalmology" was virtually unknown. All Ophthalmologists were generalists, although some were slowly developing a particular interest in one aspect of ophthalmology. There were really no sub-specialty interests and virtually no sub-specialists. However, in the second half of the 1960s people slowly became more interested in specific parts of ophthalmology. Paediatric ophthalmology was then, as now, a Cinderella specialty with relatively little interest. It was at the end of the 1960s that Brian Harcourt and Albert Franceschetti were lounging around a pool in Acapulco. It was there that they discovered their mutual interest in paediatric problems and decided that it would be right for some of the younger ophthalmologists in Europe to get together and discuss the growing points in the sub- specialty.
Discussions continued, but it was only through the work of Barrie Jay, to whom the Group owes an incomparable debt, that a meeting first took place in 1972 in Oxford. Amongst those that attended were Alan Bird, August Deutmann and Jean-Jacques DeLaey together with one of the greatest paediatric ophthalmologists of our age, Mette Warburg. Since then the Group has prospered and, for many years the tradition was that it met alternately in the United Kingdom and in a European city. The Group was run somewhat autocratically by Barry Jay, who made all of the arrangements and most of the decisions and, in spite of this, was extremely successful.
When Barrie retired from the Chair of Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital the organisation passed to Tony Moore who is now Professor of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Genetics. As with all groups, it has expanded and become more formal and, under Professor Birgit Lorenz, is set to become the leading, and the biggest, group of those interested in Paediatric Ophthalmology and Genetics in Europe.
One of the basic principles of the Group has been that discussion of squints should be excluded and left to the strabismological societies and this will be maintained.