Opticians Ponder the Future of the Profession at OptiCon Conference


Having some fun with Minnie and
Mickey Mouse are (l to r) Nicole
Ellingsworth, Joanne Wilhelm and
Stephanie Graves.
LAKE BUENA, Fla.—"I believe the future visit to the optician might be more like a trip to the Apple Store," declared Ted Gioia during his keynote speech at the annual OptiCon Conference held here from Oct. 6 to 8.

 Gioia, a musician, author and expert on management and business creativity, said, "High tech firms are fighting for real estate on your body," a direct reference to current technologies such as Google Glass, Apple Watch and Apple's acquisition of Beat Headphones, all of which are applications linked to the body. "The leading technologies in the world view eyewear as a platform for their latest, greatest and best technologies, and that will change the field for all of us."

Gioia's keynote, titled “Innovation and Vision; Past, Present and Future,” linked 1,000 years of optical research and design to technologies used in the industry today. Attendees broke into applause after Gioia highlighted Estelle Glancy for her work on American Optical's Tillyer Lens during the 1920s. Dr. Glancy is known as the first woman in optics to file a patent for progressive lenses in 1923.

In a news announcement, Jim Morris, executive director of ABO and NCLE, revealed that OptiCon would join forces with Vision Expo. The partnership, as reported by VMail, dubbed as "the industries premier opticianry, and contact lens fitter's education program," partnered with "the largest gathering of eyewear professionals in the Americas," will officially take place in New York City during Vision Expo East in March 2018.

"Through OptiCon's partnership with Vision Expo, attendees will find the personalized program that they have come to expect, along with expanded educational and networking opportunities, just steps from the industries most expansive show floor," Morris said.

(L to R) Attending courses are Mario Calderon,
Andrea Carresse and and Kyle Beaudet.
Niasha Roberts stops by the ABO-NCLE booth.

Blair Wong, OptiCon's director of education, commented on the partnership during an OAA board meeting saying,"Vision Expo approached OptiCon to be part of Vision Expo. We want to maintain the educational identity of OptiCon."

Opticians Association of America (OAA) newly elected officers, president Bob Reynolds and 1st vice president Dibby Bartlett, met with board members to discuss the Portability Act which would allow opticians to move from state to state. "OAA is a proponent of portability," said executive director Chris Allen. Another hot topic discussed at the board meeting was standardized education. "We need to strengthen our standards," Allen said.

Presenters Ted Gioia (l) and Blair Wong.Brandi Irby of Ogeechee Technical
College accepting the award at the
NFOS College Bowl from Robert
Russo president of National
Federation of Opticianry Schools.
Presenters Jim Morris and
Dibby Bartlett.

Educational sessions during the three-day conference included courses highlighting spectacles, contact lenses, business and hands-on refraction for opticians, as well as the ABO and NCLE exam review courses.

Highlights of OptiCon's education track featured Barry Santini's, All About the Base Curve; "Sight—The Story of Vision," a documentary presented by Blair Wong; and Phernell Walker's Optical Case Studies. A hands-on workshop led by Bill Underwood and Joe Sollecito gave students the opportunity to dissect a cow's eye.

Barry Santini (l) and Brent McCardle enlighten
attendees during the course titled
All About the Base Curve.
(L to R) Troy Kish, Lis Fenton, Eden Bekkela
during an Ocular Dissection class.

The NFOS College Bowl, kicked into gear Saturday night. Twelve students, each chosen to represent their schools, competed in a game where speed and knowledge about opticianry scored points for the school. After three tie-breakers, Brandi Irby of Ogeechee Technical College won the competition by correctly answering, 'What is the vertical prism distance between the two eyes? OD +2.00 OS +3.75; reading distance = 10mm. The answer is 1.75 mm.

OptiCon—Education in Opticianry and Contact Lens Technology, is produced by the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners, a not-for-profit organization for the voluntary certification of ophthalmic dispensers. More than 96,000 certificates have been awarded since 1976.