New Keynoter and Courses Set for 'SIB' Virtual Conference


ROCKVILLE, Md.—Organizers of the first Seeing is Believing virtual conference, to be held Jan. 30 - Jan. 31 and then archived online, are anticipating that they will see an attendance of at least 1,000 optometrists, a mix of independents and corporate-affiliated doctors and practice staff, at their upcoming event.

In addition, a new keynote speaker, social media expert Shashi Bellamkonda, has been lined up for the opening day. And a full roster of courses and seminars, geared to educate and train practices on a variety of topics, has been firmed up for the program, which is posted at and available for registration this month.

Michael Porat of, which is one of the organizers of the conference, told CLICK that registrations are growing as the event approaches, and he pointed out that several discount registration options are available for ECPs who are members of SIB sponsor buying groups and alliances, as well as free registration for all optometry students, thanks to a grant provided by Walmart and Sam's Club Optical. "We have been truly surprised by the turnout for this event and we know from studying other virtual conferences that most people will be registering in the next two weeks," explained Porat, Seeing is Believing conference coordinator. "We are especially seeing a surge in practice enrollment because of the cost effectiveness SiB brings to making this a staff education event."


Social Media Expert Shashi Bellamkonda is the SIB's keynote speaker.

The new online conference, specifically targeting the optometric market, was announced back in July, and updated in CLICK this past November. It will use an advanced virtual reality conferencing software to deliver information and showcase products and services for attendees, its aim to teach practitioners about the power of online tools, techniques and technology.

Over 40 courses will be offered to attendees by a range of speakers on such topic areas as electronic health records, practice management, new web applications, technology and social media marketing. "We really have optometry's best and brightest thinkers gather at one time to share a rich array of ideas," stated Daniel Rostenne, CEO of EyeCarePro and co-founder of Seeing is Believing. "Our speakers understand the revolution in education that SiB represents and they are helping us to establish a strong foundation for many virtual optometry conferences in the future."

Porat is also encouraged by the plans for many exhibitors to feature special, dynamic areas for their booths at the meeting, as well as log-in/password meeting rooms for certain groups during the conference. He emphasized that while the SIB conference will be held from 2:00pm EST to 10:00pm EST each of the two days, "We will be making available a permanent resource library of all of the talks and exhibits, so that attendees who are not able to visit every booth or session on the program, or who need to take time out during the days for other purposes, will be able to log back in to see what they've missed."

Regarding Bellamkonda, SIB co-founder, Alan Glazier, OD, pointed out, "What better person to provide the keynote address for Seeing is Believing than Shashi Bellakonda. While he will be a new name for optometrists, we wanted a leader in the field and Shashi is the leading expert in social media. We are excited and honored to have him address our audience." Bellamkonda is Senior director of social media of and Adjunct Marketing Professor at Georgetown University.


SIB Attendees will be encouraged to find the "treasure" within the virtual exhibit halls at the conference. They can accrue SIB points throughout the conference to win prizes.

Twenty exhibitors will be participating including software vendors, frame manufacturers and web technology companies. "The virtual exhibit area is rich with activities and presentations," stated Porat. "The exhibitors have really taken to this medium and I think our attendees are in for some surprises."

Groups taking part and offering discounts for their members at the event include GPN, The Power Practice, Prima Eye Group, Vision West and ABB/ConCise. Sponsors of SIB 2013 currently include Walmart and Alcon as well as Eyemaginations and EyeCarePro while exhibitors, at CLICK's presstime, include Eyecon, VSP Vision Care, AOA Excel, Revolution EHR, EyeSolutions, TheEyeBook, The Edge, Demandforce, WebSystems 3, The EyeDoctors, FRAMESData/FittingBox, A&A Optical, ClearVision, Marchon and others.

In addition to the SIB2013 site, which contains a great deal of info and materials about the meeting, the group also has a Facebook page.