International Vision Expo East drew a record crowd of 16,317 eye care professionals during its annual March show at the Javits Center in New York City, according to unaudited preliminary attendance figures. This represents a 10% jump in attendence compared to 2011 and a new show record.

“We are pleased to report that we broke attendance records dating back to the show’s inception in 1986,” says Tom Loughran, vice president for Reed Exhibitions, which co-owns International Vision Expo East along with The Vision Council. “Overall feedback indicates that visitors were very satisfied with this year’s show. The new split level floor plan, featuring the French Loft on the Level 4 Terrace and combined pavilions and education destination on Level 1, exceeded expectations.”

This year’s International Vision Expo East offered more than 325 hours of continuing education for attendees.

A final third-party audit of International Vision Expo East, which will detail audited attendance figures, will be available in early May 2012.
“Every disruption brings opportunity,” says Deborah Castor, vice president of shows and meetings for The Vision Council. “Reed Exhibitions and The Vision Council rose to the challenge when presented with several show floor design constraints due to the ongoing construction at the Javits Center. In the end, the construction provided us with an opportunity to reinvent International Vision Expo East in its 26th year into a totally re-energized event.”

This year, the show floor was expanded by an additional 10%. The conference and meeting rooms and exhibits spanned four levels for a combined total of 312,823 square feet. More than 575 exhibitors, including 132 new companies, presented the latest trends in eyewear and advances in eye care technology to eye care professionals and buyers from across the globe.

The informative classroom instruction connected to hands-on knowledge at the expansive exhibits, which allowed attendees to learn about and source the most products in one place, compare and test drive the equipment, and implement new ideas.

“Our Allergan sales representatives were thrilled with the increased booth traffic at this year’s Vision Expo Conference,” says Dave Gibson, director of optometric professional relations for Allergan. “We increased our booth size and used interactive screens to highlight our new optometry website, both of which seemed to help drive booth traffic. Additionally, the new proximity of the educational classrooms to the Medical and Scientific exhibitors provided a great synergy and helped to drive traffic.”

Added Kirk Smick, O.D., chairman of the International Vision Expo Conference Advisory Board: “In the 30 years that I have been involved in the optometric education projects, I have never seen more enthusiasm from attendees than this recent Vision Expo East.  Exhibitors were beside themselves as streams of eyecare professionals departed the continuing education courses and immediately entered the exhibit hall. The proximity of the conference center to the exhibit hall was a clear advantage for both the eye care professional and the exhibitor.” 

Vision Expo East featured celebrity designer Marc Ecko.

The latest trends in eyewear were a big hit in the exhibit hall.
In an effort to create a world-class education program, the conference advisory board worked with specialty optical groups, including the Optometric Retina Society, the Optometric Council on Refractive Technology, and the Optometric Nutrition Society, to put together a full program featuring sought-after speakers from a variety of fields. Boasting more than 325 hours of continuing education, the 2012 program was divided into five areas of interest—Allied Health, Business Solutions, Clinical, Contact Lenses and Optical Technology—to make it easier for attendees to create personalized education strategies and practice to the fullest extent of their license.

The expanded CE offerings attracted even more O.D.s this year, representing an increase of 21% of conference attendees compared to last year, according to Vision Expo East estimates. Additionally, there was also an increase in the amount of O.D.s who registered for the exhibit hall, up 7% this year. The total number of O.D.s who attended this year’s meeting was 2,968, representing a 16% increase.

“It was another exciting year in New York City at Vision Expo East,” says Mark Dunbar, O.D., International Vision Expo Conference Advisory Board Member. “This year in particular there was a ‘buzz’ unlike I had ever seen before ... you could feel the energy and vibe as you walk(ed) between the continuing education lectures and the exhibit hall. I was impressed to see many of the lectures were full to capacity and the quality of all the lectures this year (was) truly outstanding!”

Also new this year, continuing education was located on Level 1, the same level as the Lenses & Processing Technology, Medical & Scientific and Low Vision Pavilions, as a result of the ongoing Javits Center renovation project. O.D.s were invited to relax and enjoy networking in the all new Optometry Club, which was also located on Level 1. In addition to offering many amenities, including a food stand, the Club played host to a student luncheon on Friday, Doctorfest networking events on Friday and Saturday, and a special Job Search Meet and Greet breakfast on Saturday morning.

“This year’s Vision Expo meeting was fabulous. The new location of the educational program allowed attendees to easily stroll between the educational program and the exhibition hall,” says Richard Soden, O.D., vice president for clinical affairs at SUNY College of Optometry.  “This was a major advantage to previous years. The attendees that I spoke to were enthusiastic about the educational program and felt there were many unique programs offered this time. A huge success!”

Next year, International Vision Expo East will be held from March 14-17, in New York City. Show dates have been confirmed with the Javits Center through 2020 in the March/April timeframe. To view future dates, visit