Industry Leaders Assess Changes in U.S. Optical Market


Carl Spear, OD, FAAO of Alcon provides closing remarks at the Corporate Optometry Reports (COR )Meeting.

LAS VEGAS—Optical professionals attending Vision Expo West gathered here on Oct. 2 to examine the current and future state of the optical market at the annual Corporate Optometry Reports (COR) meeting, held here. The event, sponsored by Alcon, began with an introduction by Carl Spear, OD, FAAO, director of professional development and implementation at Alcon, followed by an overview of the U.S. optical market by Marge Axelrad, SVP/editorial director, Vision Monday, Jobson Medical Information. The overview was based on findings from The Vision Council's VisionWatch survey.

Topline data communicates a "good news/bad news" state, Axelrad explained. "Sales are up, but recovery is sluggish. Whether ECP, retailer, supplier or buyer, everyone is recognizing there are big adjustments afoot."

Jeff Johnson, OD, RW Baird, provided an investment market update focused mainly on the contact lens market, stating that suppliers and ODs can expect growth in the CL market as more patients upgrade from non-silicon hydrogel (SiHy) two-week or monthly lenses to SiHy and daily lenses. "Daily SiHy could be the hero," Johnson said, adding that the potential for pickup depends on optometrists.

Jim Murphy, VP/GM, U.S. Vision Care, Alcon, followed with insight into dropout among contact lens wearers, particularly those aged 30 and up, due to lack of comfort. He pointed out a prevalent need for dry eye remedy, and for suppliers' responsibility to offer innovative products and to create a "wellness habit" such as that which exists in the dental industry.

An AOA legislative update was provided by AOA VP, Steve Loomis, OD, FAAO, who said that the next generation of optometry will require adherence to new technologies and systems of keeping optometrists engaged in the issues in the optometric profession.

Enjoying a lunch break during the Corporate Optometry Reports Meeting are (l to r) Maria Barnwell, Essilor; Vicky Sheppard, Kaiser Permanente; Suzy Yu, OD, MBA, FAAO Vision Essentials, Kaiser Permanente; and Chad Overman, OD, Walmart.

Dean Browell, PhD, presented the keynote address, explaining the use of the "activation to advocacy model," a method of client retention broken down into steps that can be achieved and sustained through strategic presence in the social media marketplace. Bowell is executive VP of Feedback, an agency that specializes in social media strategy.

Following Browell, Maria Barnwell, VP business development, key accounts, Essilor of America, spoke on how to create value in the "new payer" market. April Jasper, OD, FAAO of Advanced Eyecare Specialists spoke about exceeding patient expectations in eyecare delivery.