This year’s Vision Expo West meeting, which was held in Las Vegas from September 5-8, attracted an estimated 12,077 eye care professionals and offered attendees 350 hours of continuing education credits as well as the opportunity to interface with 475 exhibitors and their cutting-edge technologies, latest research and frames. During the meeting, CE classes were filled, and the aisles of the Sands Convention Center’s exhibit hall were buzzing with attendees eager to see hot new eyewear styles and try out the latest vision technologies.

Show organizers place preliminary exhibit hall figures at 8,209. Also, an estimated 3,868 eye care providers attended the CE sessions. A complete third-party audit of International Vision Expo West will be available approximately six weeks after the show.

“International Vision Expo West is a healthy, energetic and vibrant event, and the number of loyal and satisfied visitors in attendance was a true testament to that,” says Tom Loughran, vice president of Reed Exhibitions. “We remain committed to providing the entire ophthalmic community with a convenient location to network, hold meetings and source the best in products, education, innovative solutions and business-building tools for the health of their practice and their patients.”

Eye on CE
Vision Expo West has greatly enhanced its CE offerings in recent years, and the 2012 meeting was no exception. Attendees were able to glean valuable information from many innovative courses presented by renowned speakers, including Ron Melton, O.D., and Randall Thomas, O.D., M.P.H. Their memorable sessions included “On Call with Melton and Thomas,” which offered attendees a better understanding of the challenges encountered during weekend call in the tertiary care environment. Drs. Melton and Thomas completed their stellar lineup with “Glaucoma Grand Rounds,” which shared patient presentations in a case-study/grand rounds format, and “Melton and Thomas Treatment Guidelines,” which offered pearls on common and not-so-common disorders often seen in the primary care optometric practice.

Exhibitors offered first-hand views of latest technologies.

As the federal mandate for practices to move to electronic health records has officially arrived, Phillip Gross, O.D., offered attendees real-world EHR examples and a road map on how to navigate through the process. In “EHR Survival: Deployment and Rewards,” Dr. Gross discussed critical issues and steps invovled when deploying an integrated EHR system while still focusing on realities, challenges and rewards for compliancy.

Glaucoma experts Robert Wooldridge, O.D., and Murray Fingeret, O.D., led an informative back-and-forth course that reviewed controversial glaucoma topics in regards to diagnosis and management. Their course, “Point-Counter Point Glaucoma,” covered the best adjunctive medication for the treatment of glaucoma, contemporary models of care, innovative diagnostic instruments (e.g., optic nerve imagers, newer perimeters) in addition to whether surgery has a role as an intial therapeutic modality.

Diana Shechtman, O.D., navigated attendees through her presentation, “Using the OCT Beyond the Macula,” where she discussed several challenging cases in which OCT analysis played a key role in the evaluation of the retinal condition that went beyond macular disease.
Eye care practitioners also picked up pointers during other key course offerings, including Board Certification Review, the Management and Business Academy, the UV Symposium and the Optical and Contact Lens Boot Camp.

Sheri Mayes of Nationwide Vision in Chandler, Ariz., gave high marks to the continuing education courses she attended. “The classes were great, especially the sessions on digital lenses and the optics of larger lenses,” she said.

New at VEW
Vision Expo West cites several successes from this year’s meeting, including new strategic partnerships that were formed between optometric associations, professional organizations, alliances and buying groups. Specifically, the Optimum Program, comprised largely of million-dollar practices, Vision Monday’s Top 50 Retailers and boutique optical buyers, grew by 22% and 11 new professional groups joined Vision Expo’s Partner Program, bringing the total number to 38. Additionally, the growth of the Optometry Student Program enticed several organizations to host meetings at the show, including the Association of Practice Management Educators and Student Optometric Leadership Network.

Vision Expo West featured 350 hours of education, including courses on how to navigate through EHR implementation.
“We are ecstatic with the outcome of Vision Expo West. Not only did it exceed our expectations, we hit company goals and achieved record breaking results overall,” says Milena Cavicchioli, vice president of marketing for Luxottica North America. “Following the success of Vision Expo East earlier in the year, we have continued to see a remarkable increase in the demand for our brands and have kept the momentum going ever since. The show was another excellent opportunity for us to spotlight the new collections as well as update guests on the latest company news and brand initiatives, including Ray-Ban’s 75th Anniversary.”

In addition to reporting strong sales at the event, many exhibitors were optimistic about the industry’s growth potential for the remainder of 2012. “Marchon continues to gain momentum and market share as we launch spectacular product season after season,” says Lloyd Gittler, vice president of retail for Marchon Eyewear. “From Michael Kors to Lacoste to Fendi, we have maintained our position as a leader in the industry and an innovator in product, design and marketing. We also had a nice response to the launch of Valentino men’s eyewear. Life is good post-show.”

Barney Dougher, president of Hoya Vision Care, also observed that many attendees are “conscious buyers” who come to Vision Expo with a discerning eye for new products that could help them grow their business. “For example, our new Spectangle and our augmented reality apps, and Hoya DF (Distortion-Free Optics) really attracted attention,” he noted.

Next year, International Vision Expo West will be held from October 2-5 in Las Vegas, before returning to its typical late September timeframe for the next seven years. For more information go to

The Vision Monday staff contributed to this report.