The Asia Pacific Council of Optometry began in 1978, when the International Federation of Asia and Pacific Associations of Optometrists (IFAPAO) was formed on the initiative of Dr. Damien Smith, of Australia, and Dr. Claro Cinco, from the Philippines. The founding members were the American Optometric Association, Australian Optometrical Association, Canadian Association of Optometrists, Fiji Optometric Association, Hong Kong Optometric Association, Japan Optometric Association, New Zealand Optometrical Association, Optometric Association of the Philippines and Singapore Optometric Association.
During this time IFAPAO organized a biennial scientific meeting, the Asia Pacific Optometric Congress (APOC), at various locations throughout the region.
Restructuring the International Optometric and Optical League into the World Council of Optometry, with six regions, substantially changed the role of IFAPAO. It became the regional organization for the Asia and Pacific with representation on the WCO Governing Board. In concert with this change, the name of the organization became the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry (APCO) in 1995. At the same time, Damien Smith retired as secretary-general. Assuming this role from this point forward was Prof. Willard B. Bleything from Pacific University in Oregon (USA). Dr. Antonio Joson from Philippines was appointed as secretary-general from 2005 to 2007. With the transfer of headquarter of APCO from the United States to Hong Kong and the new formation of APCO Executive Committee, Professor Carly Lam and Dr Akio Kanai were appointed as secretary and treasurer respectively in Oct 2007 to manage the administrative work of secretary-general.
The mission of the Council is to promote the advancement of primary eye health and vision care by optometrists in the Asia and Pacific region for the benefit of the public.