This year, Vision Expo West turns 30. That means that for 30 years, Vision Expo West has been bringing the industry together. From the California coast to fabulous Las Vegas, Vision Expo West has made the West Coast the place to be for the optical community every September. That much hasn’t changed. Just about everything else has, though.

Life was pretty different back in 1988; the mere fact that we're putting this feature together on a laptop computer is proof of that. And when the Vision Expo West organizers put together this infographic, with lots of details of just what’s happened in 30 years, it became even clearer just how much life has changed since the first ever Expo West. In a lot of ways, some things have changed for the better—after all, we have social media, DVR, compact cell phones, and e-readers to help communicate now—but it’s always fun to take a look back at what the old days were like. A bit of nostalgia is good for the soul, isn’t it?

So, hop in our DeLorean—let’s take it back to 1988.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of George Michael’s “Faith” blasting on the radio. It’s the number one song of the year, but, of course, you know that already—you’ve probably been hearing it everywhere you go for a year now. And chances are you’ve gone to your local movie theater to see “Rain Man” this year. Or maybe “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Thankfully, you’re blissfully ignorant to the fact that movie tickets will cost $17 a pop in 2018.

The hair is huge, the jeans are acid wash (and, let’s face it, not very flattering), the Winter Olympics in Calgary are all over the news, and every kid is begging their parents for a Nintendo gaming system. How excited will they be when they learn that, in 30 years, they’ll be able to take their handheld Nintendo Switch with them everywhere they go?

And, of course, the glasses are massive. And thick. And they tend to slide down your nose because it feels like they weigh more than your backpack. But relief is coming! Lighter weight frames and rimless eyewear! Super comfortable contact lenses, high index lenses for your glasses, Lasik: it’s all right around the corner. It’s all waiting for you—but in 1988, you have no idea. After all, you’re heading to the mall to buy a new pair of aviators tonight. You don’t have time to think about Lasik eye surgery.

Today, in 2018, things are pretty different. I haven’t seen acid wash denim in a while. The Billboard song of the year in 2017 was “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran. The top box office movie of 2018, so far, is “Black Panther.” And my glasses are so light, despite my staggeringly strong prescription, that I can barely feel them on my face. But one thing that’s been a constant all these years? Vision Expo West, of course.

So, there’s no doubt that things have changed since 1988; and whether they’ve changed for better or worse is up for debate. But right now, typing on a lightweight laptop computer and talking to my brother, away for his freshman year of college, with ease on a cellphone, I’m pretty happy to be living in 2018. I’m thankful for the ease of life, the world-changing technology, and fun songs like “Shape Of You.” But I’m also thankful that we still have bits and pieces of the '80s with us. Maybe I’ll go stream “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” tonight.  

George Michael on the Faith World Tour in 1988 (Public Domain image via University of Houston Digital LibraryGuy in acid wash jeans from the 80s. Source: Creative Commons
Katarina Witt won gold in women's figure skating from 1988 Winter Olympics in Alberta. Source: Creative Commons

Source: Vision Expo Twitter