The headline in the June 5 Show Daily from Vision Expo East said it all: “Show Attendees Feel Excited, Safe and Happy to be Back.” As Expo got into full swing on Friday, VM’s Gwendolyn Plummer, the onsite eyes and ears of our Expo Show Daily observed, “No matter where this year’s Vision Expo East attendees came from, and no matter what their plans are at the show, there seems to be one common feeling among everyone: it’s good to be back. Out on the show floor, attendees and exhibitors are back to doing what they love most, all while staying safe and cautious. The overall feeling of the show has been one of optimism and happiness—of a long overdue reunion that has finally arrived.”

While this year’s Show was a decidedly different experience for exhibitors and attendees alike, everyone made the best of it and most people agreed it was refreshing and downright exciting to be doing business face to face again.

Vision Expo East, which took place June 2 to 5 in Orlando Fla., marked the first large-scale, in-person trade show for the vision care community since 2019. Organizers said the show "brought together thousands of members of the industry."

“With the support of the Orange County Convention Center, we were thrilled to host a successful, safe event for the community to network, learn and conduct business,” said Fran Pennella, vice president, Vision Expo at Reed Exhibitions. “Based on the feedback from our exhibitors, we know this was a truly impactful event, with new business being conducted and invaluable relationships were formed and solidified over the course of the Show.”

EssilorLuxottica’s Combined Company Booth
Vision Expo East 2021 featured more than 200 exhibiting companies across several distinct neighborhoods and offered cutting-edge continuing education and engaging programming.

More than two-and-a-half years since the merger between Essilor and Luxottica was finalized, the optical industry giant made its first appearance at a major industry event under a single, unified banner during last week’s Vision Expo East show in Orlando. The company unveiled a gleaming, modern booth that showcased the EssilorLuxottica brand, its vast portfolio of frames, sunglasses, spectacle lenses and showcased a range of related services. Although the exhibit symbolized EssilorLuxottica’s new corporate identity, it provided visitors with practical examples of how the company presents its flagship brands and capabilities to provide independent eyecare professionals with an array of digital resources to support and sell them while building up their practices.

The company also offered a "soft" preview of what will be a new, completely overhauled training and development resource site at the new booth.

“This is a new chapter for a new company, and we'll support our customers in a much more integrated way than we've ever done before,” said Rick Gadd, president of Essilor North America. “It is super powerful and exciting to think about the potential of how we can begin to grow the industry for everyone and provide the support to independent eyecare professionals by being great partners for them. We're one team, and this booth is a great representation of that.” Gadd added, “We’ve always been thought of as a product company, but we’re actually a product, services and solutions company.”

Here’s a look at some of the other companies that were exhibiting at Vision Expo East:

Andrew Hyncik (l) and Jens Boy of Zeiss were ready to give attendees the lowdown on Trivex lenses.

Mike Gonzalez (l) and Fabian Bruneau of ABS were ready to show off their Smart Mirror product.

Lucyd’s Harrison Gross and Frank Rescigna demonstrated the company’s Bluetooth eyeglasses.

The WestGroupe team was ready to greet attendees on the first day of the Show. (L to R) Mike Debono, Beverly Suliteanu, Michael Suliteanu and and Dennis Davis.

The Lensbox team of Josh and Hannah Maleki were promoting the release of Lensbox XL Technology.

It was all hands on deck at the DigitalOptometrics booth. (L to R) Kurt Schaefer, Ken Van Cleave, Jim Muniz, Frank Balestra, Howard Fried, OD and Tom Kremer.

The CooperVision team was already for a busy morning. (L to R) Melissa Kiewe, Greg Sampson and Pamela Bisikirski.

Tom Davies (L) and Bart Vandervelde were excited about the debut of Catch London, a new brand handmade in London.

Modo Eyewear’s Brian Dombrowski and Rebecca Giefer were happy to be back on the Show floor.

(L to R) Standing in front of their very colorful backdrop is Etnia Barcelona’s Vitaly Gumenik, Vicky Perez and Zachary Milam.

Alex Incera of Coburn Technologies getting ready to demo the Cobalt NXT Freeform Lens Generator.

(L to R) The Younger Optics team includes Tom Kanaplue, Stephen Apat and Candace Culp.

Sharon Carter led a session on “Dealing With Difficult Patients.”

The team at Carl Zeiss Vision was recognized with the Vision Choice Award for 2021 for its ZeissUVClean system.

Phernell Walker from Pure Optics welcomed attendees to his session titled Fundamentals for the Newer Optician.

At the Opti-Port reception Wednesday are (L to R) Michelle Markland and Katie Steed both of St. John's Eye Associates and Dr. Jason Lake, general manager of Opti-Port.

The Optical Women’s Association held an in-person reception on Thursday evening. The board of directors gathered for a long-awaited photo opp.
(L to R) Megan Molony, National Vision; Jan Cory; Janelle Pauli, VisionWeb; and Deb Bulken.

“Demystifying Private Equity and Its Role in Optometry” returned to Vision Expo East. Speakers Richard Edlow, OD, (L) also known as The Eyeconomist, and Ken Krivacic, OD, MBA, founder of Las Colinas Eyecare in Irving, Texas provided an overview of PE investment strategies and opportunities.
New Learning Hubs
New to the Show, The Seen served as a main stage destination and a hub for collaborative learning as the host venue for the EYE2EYE Series panels and the Career Zone, which returned to Vision Expo East on Saturday, June 5. The Career Zone served as a central hub where students and young professionals connected with optical companies and explored career resources.

Also new to the Show, the ShopVISION Lounge served as a discovery zone for attendees to learn more about and demo ShopVISION, a new global sourcing platform, as well as the voting destination for the Vision Choice Awards, which recognizes the best new product at Vision Expo East. Carl Zeiss Vision was recognized with the award for 2021 for its ZeissUVClean system.

Vision Expo East 2021 also brought together key industry groups and supporters. The Professional Opticians of Florida offered Florida-required education at Vision Expo East, while the National Optometric Association hosted its regional meeting at the Show. Prevent Blindness also hosted its annual Swing Fore Sight Golf Tournament on June 2.

Additionally, to accommodate members of the vision care community from around the globe, the Show organizers offered Vision Expo+, a free digital extension of the Vision Expo East experience that was available from June 3–5 through ShopVISION, a new global sourcing platform. From June 3–5, nearly 1,000 members of the community took advantage of a number of virtual experiences, including online showrooms from Vision Expo East’s more than 200 exhibitors and livestreamed Vision Expo East content.

All events taking place at The Seen were simulcast live on the ShopVISION platform. Additionally, the recorded sessions are now available to view on ShopVISION.

Registration for ShopVISION is available here by clicking the “Sign in/Join” button and then “Register Now.” ShopVISION is being offered on a complimentary basis to all eyecare providers, buyers and all Vision Expo East 2021 exhibitors.

Presented under the banner of VisionEd, Vision Expo’s education program included 120 sessions and more than 160 hours of custom-designed clinical content, as well as a robust offering of courses led by renowned experts in business, fashion and marketing. Returning to the Show, OptiCon@Vision Expo offered an education program and exhibit hall experience for opticians, contact lens practitioners and ophthalmic allied professionals.

Networking Events

Once the Show was over each day, attendees were able to gather for some networking events in the evening. Opti-Port held a reception on Wednesday evening at the Renaissance Orlando at Sea World. And on Thursday evening, the Optical Women’s Association (OWA) held an in-person cocktail reception at the Convention Center.

Save the Date
Vision Expo West will take place September 22-25 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the city of Las Vegas fully reopened and returned to pre-pandemic guidelines as of June 1, the Show organizers are planning a robust lineup of events and programming.

Vision Expo West will feature several new neighborhoods, in addition to the return of The Suites, as well as a rich CE program and the return of the OptiCon program and hub. Students and young professionals can also look forward to the return of The Career Zone and dedicated student programming. 

Additionally, The Seen, the main stage destination that made its debut at Vision Expo East, will host special events, panels and programming at Vision Expo West.  Vision Expo+ will again be offered as a digital extension of the in-person Show.
Registration for Vision Expo West will open in mid-July.

“Following an incredible Vision Expo East in Orlando, we are more excited than ever to bring the vision care community together again in Las Vegas this September,” said Mitch Barkley, vice president of trade shows and events at The Vision Council, co-owner of Vision Expo.

“With Las Vegas fully reopened as of June 1, we are looking forward to an exciting Show and even more opportunities to connect with the community through special events, programming and education.”

If you weren’t at Expo, you can catch up on all the happenings by reading the Show Dailies from June 3, June 4 and June 5.