Who attends the International Vision Expo West and what is its history?
The International Vision Expo, which was first held in 1988, is the world's most inclusive ophthalmic conference and expo. The event is held twice a year, once in New York City, New York and once in Las Vegas, Nevada and is focused on Education, Fashion and Technology.
This year’s event will be taking place at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas September 13 - 16.
The Las Vegas event attracts eye care professionals that are predominantly optometrists, opticians, and optical buyers; but a variety of allied health technicians and associated support staff involved in patient eye care and eyewear also attend.
There will be 475 exhibitors for Vision Expo West this year spread out over a 170,000-square foot exhibit floor. The New York exhibit floor is larger and covers 270,000 square feet.
Each of our events are audited by a third-party vendor which is valuable for our exhibitors. The audit provides detailed information about attendees so they know who they can expect to meet at the event.
How has the ophthalmic industry evolved over the years?
Since its beginning, the practice of optometrists has involved an examination, diagnosis, and prescription of corrective eyewear. What has changed over time is the sophistication of diagnostic tools and the technology of corrective eyewear.
Initially, testing involved only refraction or just the front look of the eyes. But with the modern tools and technologies we have available today, exams extend to full scope eye health - the anterior and the posterior. This enables doctors to identify different types of systemic diseases well in advance of their onset.
For with diabetes, hypertension, or other systemic conditions, optometrists are able to intercede at a very early stage. By being able to see the posterior of the eye, they can make referrals to ophthalmologists if a procedure is warranted. Some ophthalmologists have multi-disciplinary practices which include a range of medical specialist and optometrists.
Many years ago, opticians were specialty shops whose function was to dispense frames and lenses to patients based on a prescription. Nowadays, opticians typically employ optometrists so that patients receive an eye exam and prescription from the optometrist and work with an optician to select frames and lenses all at one location.
How many attendees are expected this year for the event?
We are expecting approximately 13,000 eye care professionals and buyers in Las Vegas; but at the New York event, we usually attract about 17,000.
The Vision Expo events provide wide-ranging educational programs, the largest of its kind in the U.S. Approximately 4,500 optometrists, opticians and other eye care professionals will take advantage of our education program which includes 320 hours of instruction over four days.
Who are the lead sponsors for this year’s event in Las Vegas?
This year, we are offering a contact lens forum the morning before our formal education program begins, which is being sponsored by Alcon, Bausch and Laumb, Cooper Vision, and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.
The same afternoon, Allergan, Topcorn, and Shire are sponsoring a three-hour symposium called Ocular Surface Disease and Wellness. The symposium will discuss an integrated health care model for patient diagnosis and treatment of ocular surface diseases.
Does the event include product pavilions?
We have several specialty pavilions. Our Eyewear & Accessories pavilion is the largest eyewear showcase in the country where attendees will be to find virtually any eyewear product.
The Lenses & Processing Technology Pavilion offers attendees previews of the latest advances in the special lens technology. The Medical & Scientific Pavilion features new developments in diagnostic equipment, instrumentation, and everything used within the optometric practice to diagnose and provide patient care.
Then we have our Galleria which is an area for trendy eyewear from various designers. A lot of international eyewear designers come to the event specifically to exhibit in the Galleria. It’s a real hotspot for finding funky new, boutique type eyewear.
We have another area at Vision West called the Suites where over 40 companies who sell high-end luxury brands participate. These are unique collections of licensed brands which are produced in very small runs. They are shown only by appointment.
Can you highlight a couple of tracks for a prospective attendee?
In terms of the business tracks, we are running a 17-hour retail program to deliver ideas and strategies. The eye care business is highly competitive. If you are in that business you must keep abreast of the retail landscape.
We also offer a seven-hour Practice Owner’s & Manager’s Essentials Program to focus on the challenges that the owners and managers face in the areas of marketing, operating, growing, and transitioning their practices, as well as measuring financial success.
Oftentimes, optometrists diversify their practices and find themselves with rich business opportunities. However, they need to learn how to develop a profitable strategy and run a competitive organization. Our educational programs provide them with strategic insights into how to differentiate their practices and keep their business on tract.
What lessons can optometrists glean from the Vision Expo West event?
While we focus on independent optometry, we also have programs focused on what we call corporate optometry for executives. They come to Vision Expo to hear about industry trends, industry growth, and issues that might affect the future.
Do you have a keynote speaker?
We generally don’t have any one individual keynote speaker except at the general session. That session is be sponsored by Essilor International S.A. The topic this year is The Future of Optometry: Megatrends Shaping the Profession. The presentation will discuss long range trends in patient care, practice models, and challenges in the eye care delivery system.
Vision Expo works hand-in-hand with our partners, sponsors, and exhibitors to provide useful information and business support to our attendees, as well as to extend the value of their products and services to our eye care professional community.