This story has been updated to reflect the new dates and other details that have been announced for a number of industry events since the story was posted at the beginning of January.

NEW YORK—Meet the New Year! Let’s hope it’s not the same as the old year (with apologies to The Who, of course). For starters, let’s look as optimistically as possible at the great opportunities and expectations awaiting us personally and professionally in 2021. No looking back.

We find that a positive way to start a new year is with a Planner of some sort (we’re old school and like the paper version, but there’s plenty of digital tools for this, too). This makes it easy to record and plan for key events in the New Year.

A good place to begin is with a rundown of major industry conferences and get-togethers scheduled for the first half. (Perhaps many of the Type A’s among us have already taken advantage of holiday down time to set up their calendars, but for everyone else we’re here to lend a hand.)

As usual, the first big event of the year (and one that is becoming more important to optical) is the CES consumer electronics show, usually held in Las Vegas. In 2021, the event will be for the first time an all-digital conference and it runs from Jan. 11 until Jan. 14. The conference includes keynote address from representatives of Accenture, Walmart and WarnerMedia, among others.

Later in January, the industry will be geared up for the Vision Council’s Executive Summit.

The virtual summit is scheduled for Jan. 26-Jan. 28, and its theme in 2021 is “An OPTImistic View of the Future.” Sessions are scheduled for the following periods: Jan. 26: 4-5:30 p.m. EST; Jan. 27: 11:30 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. EST; Jan. 28: 11:30 a.m.- 4:45 p.m. EST. The event is an all-new, virtual format designed to accommodate the needs of attendees from around the globe, according to the Vision Council.

After a lull in the calendar brought about by safety concerns, the annual SECO conference in Atlanta is the first scheduled event to move to an in-person format for a major industry meeting. (Coincidentally, SECO in 2020 was the last major event to have in-person attendees and an exhibit hall format.) A little later than past year’s SECO meetings in Atlanta, the 2021 version of SECO is scheduled to run as an in-person event from April 28 until May 2 at the Georgia World Congress Center. For more information about SECO, visit the conference site here.

Next up is Vision Expo East, which in late January set new dates and a new venue for the well-attended event. Expo East is now scheduled for June 2 through June 5 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Typically held in March, the show date was adjusted by The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions, organizers of Vision Expo, to better accommodate participating companies.

“It is our mission and responsibility to the vision care community to provide a platform to effectively show products and conduct business,” Mitch Barkley, vice president of trade shows and meetings at The Vision Council, said at the time the new dates were announced. “With strict limitations on large gatherings still in place in New York, we wanted to find a suitable location that would allow us to provide the exceptional Vision Expo experience that the community needs and deserves.”

For more details on Expo East, visit the conference page here.

Right on the heels of Expo East this year is the annual international eyewear show Mido in Milan. In 2021, Mido is scheduled to run as an in-person event beginning June 5 and running for three days until June 7 at Fiera Milano.

Mido is the largest international show dedicated to the global eyewear sector, with more than 1.200 worldwide exhibitors. It has moved from its traditional February date this year “to ensure peak international business opportunities,” organizers noted. “The hope is that the arrival of summer will make for safer travel between countries, confirming Mido as a pivotal force behind the industry’s business activities.”

Back in the United States, ECPs have new dates for the annual Transitions Academy, which this year is scheduled to run from June 13-June 16 in Orlando. The event, typically held in late January or early February, is organized by Transitions Optical.

Transitions Academy will celebrate its 25th year as one of the industry’s most well recognized educational events at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando. There are multiple ways for industry professionals to earn an invitation to attend Transitions Academy 2021, including becoming a Transitions Innovation Award finalist. The awards are open to optical industry professionals, educators, retailers, optical laboratories and independent eyecare professionals and practices.

And, wrapping up the first half of 2021, will be the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Optometry’s Meeting — the annual meeting of the AOA and AOSA. This is where all of optometry joins together for engaging discussions, peerless education and valuable networking, according to the AOA.

In 2021, Optometry’s Meeting is scheduled for June 24 through June 26 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Then, later in the summer and later on the calendar, is the rescheduled annual Vision Source member get-together. Vision Source’s The Exchange meeting, as of January, is scheduled to run as an in-person conference from Aug. 4 through Aug. 7 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

It will be the 30th anniversary of The Exchange, which has helped to “shape the industry and champion private practice” since 1990, according to Vision Source. The group notes that it is committed to the health and safety of attendees, exhibitors and team members and will take the necessary steps to mitigate exposure to COVID-19.

Vision Source is also monitoring and closely following the recommendations made by state, county, and city officials. Facility guidelines are subject to change as additional resources and recommendations are made available. Here are a few things you can expect onsite:

- Temperature Screenings
- Sanitizing stations
- Plexiglas dividers at registration
- Increased aisle spacing between booths in the exhibit hall
- 6 foot seating in all sessions and floor markings for all queue areas.

Industry executives are very much looking 
forward to getting back to in-person events in 2021.
Vision Expo East is scheduled for May 25-28 at the Javits Center in New York.
A little later this year, SECO is scheduled for April 28 until May 2 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
If all goes as planned with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and continued safety measures on the part of the general public, it’s possible that the optical industry will be gathering again in-person and moving forward from one of the most challenging years in anyone’s memory.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2021 to all.