NEW YORK—Private equity companies are increasing their investments in the vision care field. What are the pros and cons of partnering with PE-backed groups? What’s the “decision tree” that can help ODs navigate these decisions? What are the distinctions between PE-backed models coming into the vision space and what are the perspectives of the executive leaders of these groups? All of these topics and more are the focus of “Private Equity Takes Root: What Does it Mean for Optometry?” a special two-hour session, which is set for Thursday morning, Sept. 27, the first day of Vision Expo West in Las Vegas.

To be held at the Sands Convention Center from 7:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., this live event is being presented in cooperation with Review of Optometric Business, Vision Expo and Vision Monday. Registration is free and open to all registered Vision Expo West attendees. Registration is now open here for the event.

Attendees at this special session will hear an overview of the changing economics that guide an OD’s decision to partner with private equity or to remain independent. Mark Wright, OD, professional editor of Review of Optometric Business, will be among the OD speakers providing an overview talk about the current situation and opportunity in the optometric market, and will review the new economics of practice and strategies of investment. Further discussing the impetus for PE investment will be Richard Edlow, OD, a long-time practitioner and The Eyeconomist. Exploring “the decision tree” for ODs is Michael Kling, OD, CEO of Invision Optometry. Attendees will receive a comprehensive, printed report on the market dynamics driving today’s private equity investment in optical.

In addition, a panel of executives from leading private equity companies and management groups in optical will present their philosophies and value propositions and take questions from the audience. Among those taking part in the panel are:

• Sue Downes, CEO of MyEyeDr., a group which has been actively expanding in several major markets in the mid-Atlanic, Northeast, Southeast and Midwest for the past several years and includes approximately 370 offices today. MyEyeDr.’s Capital Vision Services is backed by investment firms Altas Partners and CDPQ.

• Kelly McCrann, CEO of EyeCare Partners ECP’s portfolio of more than 240 offices today includes such groups as Clarkson Eyecare, Thoma & Sutton, eyecare centers, Eye Care Associates, Rinkov and several ophthalmology groups and practices in the central and southeast regions of the U.S. EyeCare Partners is backed by FFL Partners.

• Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group. Acuity was founded in March 2017, backed by Riata Capital. With sales of $70 million in calendar year 2017 and 70 optical locations, its retail groups include Crown Vision Center, Eyes on Missouri, Eyetique, International Eyecare Center, Malbar Vision, One Hour Optical and 20/20 Image Eyecare Centers' 70 optical locations.

• Bob Barton, president and CEO, Total Eyecare Partners (Total ECP). Barton, an experienced optical retail executive, oversees Total ECP, which launched as a platform in September 2017 to seek partnerships with optometrists and to assist in managing medically-focused optometry practices in the U.S. It is backed by Toronto-based Imperial Capital and has acquired such practices as Gaddie Eye Centers, Dr. Alan Glazier’s Shady Grove Eye & Vision Care, Gailmard Eye Centers, and, recently acquired N.C.’s Omni Eye Specialists and Bladen Eye Center.

The Sept. 27 “Private Equity Takes Root” live event follows the initial, well-attended and received live session on the subject that was held at Vision Expo East last March. Melissa Ashley, Reed Exhibitions’ executive vice president, said, “Vision Expo is constantly adding to the topics covered in our educational programming to ensure attendees have access to all of the medical and business information they need to be best equipped to run their practices and make informed business decisions. We are once again offering this timely topic in collaboration with Review of Optometric Business and Vision Monday. As the only event that aggregates the entire vision community, Vision Expo is the ideal platform to facilitate conversations on the topics impacting the future of the profession.”