This year saw a sharp increase in the number of exhibiting vendors as the optical industry returned to New York City.

Nearly three years to the day of when lockdowns began during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Javits Center opened its doors on March 17 to thousands of vendors, buyers, eyecare professionals and industry leaders. “This is the first year where it feels like the energy is back,” VSP Vision’s Stevie Mitchell keenly observed.

Vision Expo East was the largest gathering of ophthalmic professionals in the U.S. in recent years. The Show, which ran from March 16 -19, welcomed thousands from the international vision care industry. Attendees included optometrists, opticians, contact lens professionals, allied ophthalmic professionals, optical assistants, office managers, frame buyers, lab technicians, students and other leaders in eyecare and eyewear.

Fran Pennella, vice president of Vision Expo at RX and co-organizer of Vision Expo, said, “This year’s Vision Expo East was a phenomenal event by all points of view. Seeing the energy and excitement on the bustling exhibit floor, where business associates, friends and colleagues were able to come together to conduct meaningful business coupled with the jam-packed educational sessions and countless evening networking events confirms that this is the most crucial event in eyecare in the United States. We are truly grateful for the support of our loyal exhibitors, renown speakers and the thousands of attendees who came from across the globe to make this year’s Vision Expo East one to remember,” Pennella said.

If you are just back from New York or were unable to attend Vision Expo East, the onsite Show Dailies are a great way to catch up on everything Expo. The full digital editions of the Show Dailies from March 17, 18 and 19 can be accessed here.

Click the image above to download a PDF of Latest News and Show Shots from Vision Expo East Day 1.

Click the image above to download a PDF of Latest News and Show Shots from Vision Expo East Day 2.

Click the image above to download a PDF of Latest News and Show Shots from Vision Expo East Day 3.

This year saw a sharp increase in the number of exhibiting vendors as the optical industry returned to New York City. Vision Expo East featured 425 world-class exhibiting companies, encompassing some of the biggest names in eyewear and eyecare. Attendees explored the industry’s top brands in seven unique exhibit neighborhoods: The Park, The Union, The Focus, The Springs, Look East, The Atelier, and Panorama, the newest addition to Vision Expo.

As attendees and exhibitors filled the show floor for three days, dozens of unique educational programs were held in other areas of the Javits Center. Industry professionals attended VisionEd—Vision Expo’s continuing education program—which included over 300 hours of sessions ranging from the latest business strategies and fashion trends to patient education tactics and cutting-edge innovations.

Additionally, OptiCon @ Vision Expo returned with an unmatched opticianry education program and exhibit hall experience. As always, OptiCon was the place to take in thought-provoking panel discussions, education and celebrations geared to opticians, contact lens practitioners and ophthalmic allied professionals.

Part of the OptiCon General Session on Friday included an exclusive conversation with radio personality and author, Delilah. Known as the most-listened to woman on U.S. radio, Delilah is also the founder of Point Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides essential support services to disadvantaged children in the U.S. and West Africa.

Following Delilah’s session, she was presented with a check for $100,000 from Eyes of Faith eyewear company founders Jim and Amy Schneider who raised funds from several other groups and organizations. The money was raised to help support building a community-sustaining clinic in Ghana. With the donation, children will be able to have a comprehensive eye exam and receive a new pair of glasses if needed, Delilah told the audience.

In addition to hosting exclusive educational programming, panels and discussions, Vision Expo East 2023 recognized and celebrated several individuals, brands and eyecare providers.

The winner of Vision Expo’s Fifth Annual OPTImum Independent Retailer Award, Primary Eye Care, was announced during an award ceremony on Friday, March 17. Launched in 2018, the OPTImum Independent Retailer Award celebrates independent boutique retailers by showcasing their products, stores, visions and stories to the optical industry.

Vision Expo East announced the winners of the inaugural NOW Awards on Saturday, March 18. The awards honored eight brands that embodied the latest trends and innovation in eyewear. More than 100 companies and 180 brands participated in the competition, submitting products to eight different categories. In addition to the brands, 20/20 Magazine’s James Spina was honored with the first NOW Optical Achievement Award. Click here to read the full story about the NOW Award winners.

The Career Zone-Student Lounge, a destination for students to connect with optical companies that are actively recruiting and explore career resources, also returned to Vision Expo East on Saturday, March 18. Industry relations manager for Vision Expo, Suzanne Krauss said the event draws students from across the country who are looking to find a company to help launch their careers.

“We created the career zone to give stores and students an opportunity to network and recruit,” she said, adding that young companies are looking for fresh new talent to help grow their business. She said since its inception, the Career Zone-Student Lounge has had an “overwhelming response.”

The Bridge, Vision Expo East’s main stage destination, served as a hub for collaborative learning as the host venue for various panels. The stage featured a diverse range of inspiring and educational events including a highly anticipated keynote presentation from Jason Romero, a legally blind ultra-runner.

He told the audience, “When I was at my lowest point I felt this calling to run across the United States and what it taught me was that you can be at your lowest point in life and be capable of the extraordinary, and that’s so encouraging to me. I see that in every single person even if we don’t see that in ourselves.”

Mitch Barkley, vice president of Trade Shows and Events at The Vision Council and co-organizer of Vision Expo summed up the mood of the Show saying, “The business conducted and ideas shared at Vision Expo East shape the future of this incredible industry. We’re grateful to all our partners from across the sector who came together and made this show a success.”

Look for additional photo coverage of Zyloware’s 100th anniversary party, Marchon’s 40th anniversary party, the OWA’s special events, Prevent Blindness’ Person of Vision Gala, and the Rock4Sight benefit concert in next week’s VMAIL.

LensCrafters welcomed attendees to the booth to toast to their 40th anniversary in business. LensCrafters’ Alfonso Cerullo (l) and EssilorLuxottica’s Carl Spear, OD, got the party started.

(L to R) The Lafont team of Thomas Lafont, Kristin Calimlim, Raymond Khalil and Matthieu Lafont had a lot to smile about as the company celebrated 100 years in the industry.

Prodesign celebrated its 50th year anniversary. (L to R) Celebrating at the booth are Jonathan L. Berke, Design Eyewear Group, RX’s Fran Pennella and Lars Flyvholm, head of the Design Eyewear Group.

The team at Tura Eyewear took time at the show to celebrate their 85th anniversary with staff members.

Tura's 85-year history was detailed on the wall at the company's booth.

(L to R) The co-founders of Two Blind Brothers, Bradford and Bryan Manning, with Mike Dinapoli, Dinapoli Opticians, and L’Amy America’s Stephen Rappoport. The company will be launching a special collection with them later this year.

Nicole Miller (l) and L’Amy America’s Stephen Rappoport welcomed attendees to the booth to share some of Nicole’s very own Rose as they browsed the designer’s eyewear collections.

It was a packed house for A Conversation With Delilah, the popular radio host and author, at the Opticon General Session.

Radio host Delilah (l) accepts a check for $100,000 from Eyes of Faith founders Jim and Amy Schneider who raised funds from several other groups and organizations. The money was raised to help support building a community-sustaining clinic in Ghana and garnered support from ABO/NCLE, among others.

Keynote speaker and author Jason Romero discuss his transformational journey from a successful executive to an unemployed, blind man, to an elite-extreme athlete with more than 10 world records.

The first ever NOW award winners included (l to r) Corey Shapiro of Vintage Frames, James Spina of 20/20 Magazine, Pierre Cariven of Pierre Eyewear, Chris Esposito of Ethnicity Eyewear, Andres Warszawski of Rimmel Eyewear, and Guillame Thuau and Julia Gogosha of BAARS x Gogosha. Other NOW award winners not pictured here included Nora Cabrera of Mita Eyewear, Guillaume Pottecher of Maison Nathalie Blanc, and Tom Kramer of Strak Eyewear.

20/20 Magazine’s James Spina was honored with the first NOW Optical Achievement Award.

Dr. Jarett Johnson, OD, MPH, of Primary Eye Care proudly displays her OPTImum Retail Award at the awards ceremony which was held at The Bridge.

Camille Dubois of Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology was named the new NFOS College Bowl champion at the annual event presented by EssilorLuxottica. (L to R) The award was presented by Moses Nawlo, the Opticians Association of America; Judy Lew, EssilorLuxottica; Dubois; Aarlan Aceto of Hampton, Connecticut; and Thomas Neff of Hillsborough Community College.

Students at the College Bowl cheered their school’s players on to victory.

Strak Eyewear’s Jeff Brake and Paul Ponton accepted the Product Showcase Award for their A5 frame which was named Favorite Product at this year’s Show.

National Vision (l) and MyEyeDr. (r) were two of the 10 companies that supported the Career Zone-Student Lounge which served as a central hub for students and young professionals to network with participating companies, all of which were actively recruiting and seeking new talent.