Each year, Vision Expo conferences offer eyecare professionals the opportunity to come together to network, attend educational programs, explore new technologies and trends, and gain a first glimpse at the field's most innovative products.
Presented by co-owners RX and The Vision Council, Vision Expo East and West are trade-only events for those in eyecare and eyewear that attract a wave of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors each year.
How to prepare for Vision Expo East and West
The experience can be both exhilarating and overwhelming for first-time attendees.
Antonio Chirumbolo, OD, and Director of Client Services at CovalentCreative suggested, “If it is your first time, take some time to write out some clear goals and objectives for attending.
- Are you going just for continuing education (CE)?
- Are you going to check out frames and equipment?
Write out what you need to achieve while you are there and create a schedule you can stick to, especially if you are there for a limited amount of time.
Be sure to reserve some time just to wander around and soak it all in!”
Upcoming Vision Expos
For convenience, Vision Expo hosts events on both coasts, with Vision Expo East being held in New York City in the spring and Las Vegas hosting Vision Expo West in the fall.
This year, Vision Expo East will take place at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, with education running from March 16 to 19 and the exhibitions opening on March 17 and running through the duration.
For those more Pacific in location, Vision Expo West will occur at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas on September 27 to 30, with the Exhibition Hall opening on September 28.
Tip: If you cannot attend either of this year’s conferences, plan ahead for upcoming years.
Vision Expo East (NYC)
- Education: March 14 to 17
- Exhibition: March 15 to 17
- Education: March 20 to 23
- Exhibition: March 21 to 23
Vision Expo West (LV)
- Education: September 18 to 21
- Exhibition: September 19 to 21
- Education: September 17 to 20
- Exhibition: September 18 to 20
Prior to attending Vision Expo East or West
1. Check out the website
According to Michael Cooper, OD, Eyes On Eyecare Director of Medical Education at CovalentCreative, “It is highly recommended to visit the website and scope out the educational offerings along with the Javits/Vision Expo East Map. The latter will be helpful in navigating the building to use your time efficiently while on-site.”
2. Do your research
Once you see which speakers you want to hear, the sessions you want to attend, and which exhibitors you want to meet, look them up online and learn all you can about them.
Tip: CovalentCreative’s CEO Matt Geller, OD, said, “Make a target list of individuals or companies you want to meet and research them thoroughly, so you can make headway in building a relationship.”
3. Set up appointments with vendors
“If you plan on meeting with vendors, perhaps try to reach out to them in advance and schedule times to meet so you have their undivided attention at the booth,” Dr. Chirumbolo advised.
4. Make a wish list
With so many incredible products available, it will be easy to want them all. Avoid over- or under-shopping by writing down what you or your practice needs ahead of time.
Dr. Cooper stated, “If you are attending to purchase equipment or frames/lenses, I recommend having a wishlist on-hand to structure your time on the floor.”
On the day of Vision Expo East or West
1. Pack for success
As with any expedition, you need to pack light, but pack right. Make sure you take along items that will keep you organized and comfortable throughout the whole day.
Tip: On Dr. Cooper’s must-take list: “Water, electrolytes, and sneakers/tennis shoes that have good traction—you will be putting in your steps!”
Upon arrival at Vision Expo
1. Download the app.
Once there, download the app to utilize your conference time best and leverage all available resources.
Network, network, network at Vision Expo
Networking is all about making connections and building relationships, and Vision Expo is the perfect place to do both. With hundreds of optometric professionals under one roof, every moment of the Expo is a chance to meet colleagues, key opinion leaders, and new friends and expand your network overall.
Each booth provides a chance to meet someone in the industry. In addition, throughout the conference, there are times and places dedicated to socializing. Since networking is such an important part of growing your professional network, especially in a small profession like optometry, approaching it in the right way is paramount.
Tip: Dr. Geller offered this helpful tidbit: “If you're networking, don't walk in big groups; it makes it very difficult to spark real relationships. Hang with one other person, maximum.”
Employment opportunities at Vision Expo
Whether you are seeking employment or the perfect hire, Vision Expo is the ideal environment. If you are looking for that dream job, make sure you come prepared, with a resume in tow, to make a great first impression because your future employer might be right at the next booth.
- If you are a student or new grad who wants to get your foot in the door with some of the top optometric and optical businesses in the nation, head on over to the Career Zone hub. Here, young professionals can connect with companies, check out career resources, hear panel discussions, and meet other young optometrists. There will also be raffles for prizes.
- For students, don’t forget to pick up a Passport while you’re there. This makes you eligible for free exhibition hall registration and unlimited education and comes with a list of suggested vendors to visit. Get all the participating vendor’s signatures to be eligible for a plethora of prizes.
Experiencing the Exhibit Hall
Visiting vendors in the Exhibit Hall is not only a great way to learn about the companies we utilize on a daily basis but make new and long-lasting connections with our industry partners. All of the major ophthalmic players—new and upcoming—have a presence at Vision Expo.
To keep from becoming disoriented and wasting precious time, take measures upon arrival to more easily navigate the many different hubs. “Take a look at the floor map or download the app so you can navigate. It is big and easy to find yourself walking around in circles, so having a lay of the land in advance is always a good idea,” Dr. Chirumbolo said.
Tip: Keep that app open and the floor plan handy. This year, Vision Expo East boasts over 450 booths to visit. You will have access to everything from paradigm-shifting products to state-of-the-art imaging systems to pharmaceutical breakthroughs.
How to optimize your visit to the Exhibit Hall
Gaining information and insight into just-revealed revolutionary technologies as well as those in the 2023 pipeline, is one of the most valuable ways to spend your time.
Dr. Geller said, “Focus on the areas that align with your goals. It's a big exhibit hall, and it's hard to see it all. Stay in the area you want to grow within. Also, I would talk with the companies that are on the verge of releasing new products or pharmaceuticals in this calendar year. There are lots of interesting companies doing very interesting things!”
Tip: If you're considering upgrading the eyewear your practice provides, make certain to set aside plenty of time to peruse the hottest eyewear and sunwear. From mainstream brands to niche designers, there will be a vast array to see and choose from.
Continuing education at Vision Expo East or West
The magnitude and abundance of quality continuing education topics and speakers at both Vision Expo events are astounding. Many of the best speakers in our profession will be lecturing at this year’s conferences.
For optometrists, VisionEd offers hundreds of hours of accredited education sessions on subjects ranging from practice growth and management to lens improvements to disease diagnosis and treatment to advanced imaging. Each is designed to enhance patient care and expose participants to the leading cutting-edge technologies, tools, and treatments.
An example of class titles include, but are not limited to:
- Top 10 Things You Need To Do To Market Your Practice
- Glaucoma Grab Bag: Practical Guidelines for Effective Glaucoma Management
- Myopia Control
- Easily Find & Create Content to Fill Your Social Media Calendar
- Corneal Relationship Therapy: Managing the Neurotrophic Keratitis
- The ABCs of Pediatric Vision
For opticians, optical assistants, lab technicians, allied ophthalmic professionals, or office managers, the OptiCon @ Vision Expo education package provides training in five key eyecare areas: optical technology, allied health, contact lenses, practice management, and business solutions, as well as ABO and NCLE basic and advanced exam review courses.
What not to miss at Vision Expo East 2023
With all there is to see and do, it is hard to narrow down the top things to do at this year’s Vision Expo. However, we’ve compiled a list of don’t-miss exhibits and opportunities.
Also, Dr. Chirumbolo offered this general advice: “Many companies host lunch and learn, or small events throughout the show whether that is in the Exhibit Hall or close by after hours—be sure to check out what is happening ahead of time so you can register and ensure you reserve your spot! Also, you are in New York City, so make sure you make time for some dollar-slice pizza!”
What to do at Vision Expo East 2023:
1. Peruse the Panorama
Take a journey into the future of vision science when you step into the Panorama neighborhood of the Exhibition Hall, where you will be immersed in astonishing medical advances, trailblazing vision technology, modernistic wearables, and software/business solutions.
2. Learn about the latest in lenses and processing
Want to explore new frontiers in lens and processing technology, manufacturing, and instrumentation? Then spend some time in this hub where you can learn about these pioneering products from the developers, manufacturers, and suppliers who know them best.
3. Peruse the Low Vision Pavilion
Take a stroll through the Low Vision Pavilion to find life-altering devices and products to help you better serve those patients who are suffering from vision impairment.
4. See fabulous frames at the NOW Pavillion
Make sure to visit the NOW Pavillion to view a curated selection of the latest and greatest eyewear. See a broad range of frames that embody burgeoning brands, visionary designs, and the newest trends and technologies.
The themes for this year’s show include Eyewear Icons, Colors of 2023, Show Stoppers: The WOW effect, Alternative, and Diversity and Inclusivity. Awards will be given to the best in a variety of categories.
5)Find out the winner of the OPTImum Retail Award
Since 2018, the OPTimum Retail Award has celebrated the best of the best in independent boutique optical industry retailers. The criteria for judging are uniqueness, community, industry, and aesthetics.
A committee of judges, in combination with social media voting, determines the winner, whose name will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by Suzanne Kraus of Vision Expo and James Spina of 20/20 Magazine on Friday, March 17 at 3:45 PM on The Bridge.
6)Mingle at the Vision Council member reception
Get a jump on the action by attending a casual welcome reception hosted by The Vision Council.
Mix and mingle while enjoying cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and experiencing breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline from The Press Lounge at Ink 48 Hotel. The reception takes place Wednesday, March 15th, from 5:30 PM to 07:30 PM.
See you at Vision Expo East and West 2023
Whether you are eager to advance your optometry career, improve your clinical skills, meet top-of-their-field optometrists, or bring the latest trends and technologies back to your practice, Vision Expo is the place to be.
Don’t miss this opportunity to up your eyecare game in 2023. We hope to see you there!
For more information, visit visionexpo.com and follow Vision Expo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.