25 Years and Counting—A Look Back at Vision Expo West

LAS VEGAS—In honor of Vision Expo West’s 25th anniversary, Vision Expo Daily hit the convention floor to ask exhibitors and show goers to share with us how many shows they’ve attended, how they’ve seen the conference change and why they keep coming back. We also asked them to recall some of their fondest Expo memories. From first time visitors to a very special lady who has been to every show for the last quarter century, here are the stories they told us:

Rich C. Palmer

Practical Engineering, LLC
Minneapolis, Minn.

“I’ve been coming to West for over 20 years. I’ve seen the changes in the machinery from the days of hand pans to digital surfacing. In 1990, when I was with Gerber Optical, we introduced multiple axis generating. Seeing what has evolved from that to what we have today—digital surfacing—has been amazing.”

Cindy May

I2I Optometry
Irvine & Laguna Beach, Calif.

“I’ve been coming to VEW since 1990; I’ve probably attended close to 20 Expos. A couple of years ago, I injured my knee and the Expo people got a scooter for me to use. The first year they had to find one. The next year they had some here to rent. It’s possible that experience caused them to do that.”

Jon Torrey

Think About Your Eyes
Alexandria, Va.

“The best thing about Vision Expo West is its effectiveness for an exhibitor because lots of doctors come and don’t bring their families. From an exhibitor’s standpoint, that’s nirvana because then they come through the show floor, as opposed to shows in Orlando or Anaheim, where everybody brings their families and goes to Disney.”

Angie Duley

Illinois Eye Center
Peoria, Ill.

“I’ve been coming for the past nine years at three-year intervals. The biggest change I’ve noticed over the past nine years is in the way vendors display the frames in their booths. There are far fewer frames to see and everything is enclosed. As an optician I want to see it, feel it and touch it. Now you have to make an appointment.”

Richard Ditto, OD

Fort Worth, Texas

“How many have I attended? Oh dear, I can’t even count. I’ve been coming since the 1980s back when it was called OptiFair. Today, there are more people attending and a lot more technology that goes into the glasses. The displays are also much better. I thought the medical and scientific pavilion was a great idea. I made it very easy to find what you are looking for among all the frames, lenses and equipment.”

Paul Schlotthaeur

Europa International
Chicago, Ill.

“I’ve been to West probably 13 or 14 times. I think my favorite memory is made every day. When we get people walking by here who have no idea who we are, and we get the chance to talk to them and show them who we are, that’s the greatest part. And it happens every day.”

Fred Downard, OD, PA

Ammon, Idaho

“I started coming when it was in Anaheim in ’90 or ’91 and I’ve come here for the past six or seven years. I keep coming back for the CE and to look at equipment that I can only dream about. I pick up smaller equipment here that I don’t see anywhere else. One I liked that I still remember was when SnapIt introduced their screw.”

Cindy Sacco

A.A. Jones Optical
Ontario, Canada

“This is my first Expo. There’s a lot to learn and it’s nice to see the new and upcoming technologies. There’s more than just the eyeglasses or, shall we say, the vision. Today I tried a Zeiss eyeglass-like product, the Cinemizer, that you put around your head and it shows 3D video. You can watch a movie on it!”

Gloria Nicola

20/20 Magazine
New York, New York

“My first show was before Expo started. Two weeks after I started at 20/20 I went to Optifair at the N.Y. Hilton. Everything was in one very large room. It was the first time I had seen so many frames in one place. Marchon gave away red roses. I also remember Pierre Mermet of L’Amy saying that you could just go all day and write orders non-stop. Since then, I’ve been to nearly every show and they keep getting bigger and more elaborate.”

Traci Wyatt

Uptown Eyes
Fayetteville, Ark.

“I’ve been coming to Expo since 1999. I love the fact that the show is now organized into different pavilions. That’s made it easier to navigate.”

Jose Alvez

Transitions Optical
Pinellas Park, Fla.

“I’ve been coming here for more than 20 years. The show has grown tremendously over the years, particularly internationally, and it has helped us grow our business globally. Because this show has been so popular, particularly in Latin America, it’s become a fantastic place for us to launch new products to the Latin American market.”