Vision Expo West Draws to a Close after Inspiring Attendees

LAS VEGAS—As the curtain got ready to drop on another successful Vision Expo West event last month, attendees were counting the ways that they had benefitted from attending the 2019 edition of the show. In addition to a beautiful week of Las Vegas weather—with temperatures in the 80s and relatively low humidity—Vision Expo West this year offered a wide selection of educational opportunities, a range of new-product launches and almost non-stop networking for the thousands of industry professionals who made their annual pilgrimage to the desert.

“I really like the fact that [Vision Expo] is able to combine the education of the doctors with the trade show so the doctors can come and learn about new things and new technology,” said Dr. Bruce Coward of Dr. Bruce Coward and Associates, Trenton, Ontario. “We can actually get a hands-on experience with the new equipment. Also, the fact that you can see a lot of different vendors all at once so you can compare one piece of equipment to another. It’s a great opportunity to learn about things and also shop,” he noted.

“I like seeing everything in one place. It helps me make an educated decision about what to buy,” added Ninoua Kando of 17th St. Optometry in Tustin, Calif.

Jasmine Ocegueda of Buena Vision in Las Vegas said, “All the opportunities that you have to learn about different things you don’t normally see in the office [is what I like best about Vision Expo]. This is my first year.”

Another highlight of Expo West this year was the “Speed Dating” session at the Optimum Lounge that matched business owners with some of the most successful optical retailers. “We found the experience fascinating and learned so much from the chance to share one-to-one time with a panel of experienced independent optical veterans,” Lanard Atkins, opticianry program director at Georgia Piedmont College, said.

Participating retailers at the Speed Dating session included Edward Beiner, owner of Edward Beiner Eyewear; Siobhán Burns, owner of The Eyeglass Lass; Julia Gogosha, owner of Gogosha Optique; Tanya Gill, OD, and owner of Oakland Vision Center; Stephanie Haenes, COO and owner of Art of Optiks; Utenzi Miller, owner of Elegant Eyes; Nate Ogura, owner of Eyes on Fremont; Todd Rogers, owner of Todd Rogers Eyewear; Selima Salaun, owner of Selima Optique, and Wendy Salle, owner of Salle Opticians. Following the event, Etnia Barcelona hosted a sangria reception that was open to all Vision Expo West attendees.

Even first-time attendees were impressed with the breadth of offerings and organization of Vision Expo West. “Seeing the different types of vendors, people coming from everywhere [is what I liked best], said Marguerite Brown, an optical buyer at Visionary Eye Care at Murabella, Saint Augustine, Fla. “This is my first Expo that I’ve been blessed to attend.”

Added her colleague, Dianne Boulay at Visionary Eye Care at Murabella, “I really enjoy seeing all the frame styles and vendors that we’ve not been exposed to before.”

Katrina Gutierrez of Dr. Shipley Associates in Santa Rosa, Calif., said she was able to benefit from stops at various booths on the show floor. “We had a full exam at Zeiss,” Gutierrez said. “I liked seeing how all the new equipment works.”

Tami Bliss of Granite Pointe Eye Care, in Roseville, Calif., agreed that the breadth of products and equipment that is exhibited at the show is quite impressive and well worth the trip. “The classes are good and being able to see the vendors all in one spot is good, too,” she said.

The show got off to a fast start on Sept. 19 (education sessions began on Sept. 18) with Piera Gelardi, a co-founder and executive creative director of Refinery29. Gelardi delivered the keynote address at this year’s EYE2EYE Series. She shared her experiences and approach to cultivating creativity in her presentation, Courageous Creativity with Piera Gelardi, in the new Exhibit Hall destination the BRIDGE. Gelardi was recently honored as one of Ad Age’s 50 Most Creative People of the year,

Among the highlights of the show’s education lineup was the addition of a new myopia track, with a special session on Sept. 20 curated by the Brien Holden Vision Institute. The session, which was standing-room only (actually some attendees sat on the floor) provided an overview of key strategies for managing myopia and new ways for tackling the evolution of patient care in this area.

As in past years, the show’s staple pavilion areas once again included Eyewear + Accessories; Galleria; Medical; Low Vision and Lenses + Processing. New on the show floor this year were two artists in action: Australian artist Gemma O’Brien, who is known for her bold, expressive calligraphy and detailed illustrations, worked on an exclusive mural commissioned by VSP Global; and Andre Trenier created art in real time at the L’Amy America booth.