Mark Tosh, Senior Editor

Mark covers news and feature coverage of national and regional optical retailers, managed vision care organizations, software systems and technology. He works closely with other members of the VM editorial staff to monitor developments in online optical retailing and other industry issues. Mark is a contributor to dba, a twice monthly e-newsletter profiling successful local and regional retail/optometric businesses while addressing their decision-making needs. Contact Mark at mtosh@jobson.com.

As College Football Kicks Off, Weekend Checks in With Dawgs, Tigers and Fighting Irish

By Mark Tosh
Friday, August 26, 2022 8:30 AM NEW YORK—After the longest offseason in major sports, college football is back this weekend with a handful of games. Nebraska and Northwestern open the season in, of all places, Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Series. Some fans, especially those in West Virginia and parts of western Pennsylvania, would say the season doesn’t really start until Thursday, when the Mountaineers of Morgantown, W.Va., visit Pittsburgh for another edition of the Backyard Brawl. (Watch out for this Pitt team in ’22, we hear from one of our field reporters.) There are plenty of other contenders as the season opens, including the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Cutting the Wires: Mojo Vision Completes First On-Eye Demo of Augmented Reality Smart Contact Lens

By Mark Tosh
Friday, July 29, 2022 8:30 AM SARATOGA, Calif.—Earlier this summer, Mojo Vision chief executive officer Drew Perkins hit a milestone that was not widely noticed. Perkins became the first person to wear the company’s smart contact lens, a “feature complete prototype lens,” during an internal test. The on-eye demo was significant because it “showed the contact lens can remain functional, without any wiring to the device, while being worn,” reports about the demo noted. In his own words, here’s what Perkins had to say: “Wearing the lens was inspiring. Seeing the future literally put me at a loss for words.” There’s much more to the story—and the road to commercial viability—that Perkins and others detailed following the successful test a few weeks ago. Here, VMAIL Weekend will summarize some of the reactions to this milestone event and provide a little more background on the Mojo Lens.

Tips From a Nike Co-Founder, McKinsey Partner and Happiness Expert Among the Highlights of Weekend’s Summer Reading List

By Mark Tosh
Thursday, June 30, 2022 8:30 AM NEW YORK—With the Fourth of July holiday upon us, one might think it’s too late to get together a summer reading list. Nonsense. There’s still plenty of summer left, and this weekend is as good as any to narrow down and finally identify a couple of books to read before Labor Day arrives in a flash 10 weekends from now. (You know you’ll thank yourself for the self-improvement effort come September.) So we asked a distinguished panel of industry readers to offer a few suggestions from their lists. What follows is a buffet of books certain to whet anyone’s appetite.

VM's 2022 Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers Report: Recovery and Recalibration

By Marge Axelrad and Mark Tosh
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 1:00 AM NEW YORK—After the shock of the 2020 pandemic and the slow build back to some semblance of stability by the end of that year, the leading U.S. optical retailers and companies, both national and regional groups, came back in 2021 with a solid mid-to-high double digit performance overall. While the 2020 year was characterized as working past store and office closures to “craft a comeback,” as VM noted in our 2021 Top 50, the 12 months of 2021 were marked by tightening up operations, accelerating new digital technologies to power operations and to demonstrate new ideas to consumers and patients. Companies reconsidered initiatives like more online sales choices or remote eyecare.

A 2021 Sales Comeback, Combined With Acquisitions and New Entrants, Shape VM’s 2022 Top 50

By Marge Axelrad and Mark Tosh
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 12:59 AM NEW YORK—In contrast to the harrowing year that was 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world and forced many stores to close in the U.S for many weeks, the 2021 business year saw a comeback for the U.S.’s Top 50 Optical Retailers and groups, Vision Monday has learned. Based on submissions from companies as well as VM’s own estimates, the collective Top 50 Retailers’ sales for the 12 months ending 2021 ended up higher by some 21 percent from the previous year.

Mass Merchants and Clubs Saw a Healthy 2021 Optical Sales Performance

By Marge Axelrad and Mark Tosh
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 12:56 AM NEW YORK—Mirroring their overall companies’ sales performance in 2021, which saw the U.S.’ mass merchants and warehouse clubs reflect strong consumer buying activity and a healthy return to business after the initial pandemic year of 2020, those operations with optical departments experienced healthy gains as well. Collective revenues from this sector of the market rose some 16 percent for the year, reaching $3.86 billion in calendar year 2021, according to their reports and VM estimates.

Summer Travel Tip: Make an ‘Insightful’ Side Trip to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont for a Look at America’s ‘Vision’ Story

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 8:30 AM NEW YORK—As many Northeasterners know, there are a thousand reasons to visit New England in the summertime. Let’s make that one thousand and one this year, with the recent opening of the “Eyesight & Insight: Lens on American Art” exhibit at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vt. The unique exhibit, looking at America’s history of creative response to perceptions of vision, opened May 15 and runs until Oct. 16. There’s also an online component to the exhibit, for those who don’t have Vermont in their summer travel itineraries. (Heck, I’d go to Vermont just to visit the Ben and Jerry’s factory experience in Waterbury.)

Alliances Bulk Up

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 1:30 AM With more challenges and competitive pressures for independent eyecare professionals to meet and overcome today, there’s also been a raft of changes among the alliances and buying groups that work to help these ECPs navigate the turbulent times. These alliances have done their research and overhauled their offerings as they remake themselves to better meet the needs of independent eyecare practices.

Acquios Alliance: Working to Help Indie Practices ‘Remain in Control’

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 1:29 AM Acquios Alliance, a two-year-old membership group with a program designed to “mitigate the unique challenges private practice optometrists face and help them thrive, independently,” has had a successful debut and continues to add new services, resources and vendor partners as it seeks additional growth and builds upon the way it delivers value to members.

CECOP USA Sets Goal of Becoming ECP’s ‘Trusted Partner’

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 1:28 AM CECOP USA, an affiliate of the global CECOP organization, has been active in the U.S. since May 2020 and then stepped up its activity last year with a key acquisition and the appointment of an experienced leader. The key acquisition, in January 2021, brought The Alliance Buying Group into the organization, and the key appointment followed a few months later with Brent Alvord taking the role of chief development officer at CECOP USA.

IDOC Rolls Out a Suite of Services to Support Indie ODs

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 1:27 AM The past year has been one of evolution and change for the IDOC organization, as the group moved to implement the key elements of a long-term strategic plan. Amid the changing business environment for independent ODs, IDOC saw an opportunity to innovate and adapt—not to just advise doctors about how to run their practice, “but to do it for them, better serving our members and the independent community,” IDOC president and chief executive officer Dave Brown noted. “This led us to the rollout of a complete range of ‘Let IDOC Do It’ services—meaning the practice off-loads the work to IDOC experts.”

The Eye Consortium’s Message Around ‘Independents’ Resonates With Members

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 1:26 AM Since its founding in 2019, The Eye Consortium (TEC) has earned its stripes as one of the fastest-growing alliances for independent-minded eyecare and optical practices. The group’s mission and philosophy are built upon the idea of creating a community of like-minded business people on the ECP side and to match them with a curated, specialized group of vendors who want to see independent eyecare continue to grow and thrive.

ADO Sets Itself Apart With Unique Lens, Frames and Marketing Services

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 20, 2022 1:25 AM ADO Practice Solutions has been providing industry-leading savings and business services to help independent eyecare professionals manage their practice with ease, control costs and increase profitability for over 35 years. The organization, a unit of Walman, notes that it prides itself in keeping practices in complete control of their businesses.