Vision Expo West Looks Back While Keeping an Eye on the Future

By Nicky Fambios

event_vewAfter 25 years, you might think that International Vision Expo West (VEW) would run out of ways to innovate and improve the annual ophthalmic conference and expo at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas. But the four-day event that took place  October 2-5 demonstrated that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there was a 12 per cent increase in conference attendance and a five per cent increase in overall show attendance compared with 2012.

What’s the secret to the show’s success? “International Vision Expo is unlike any other medical meeting,” says Courtney Muller, group vice president for Reed Exhibitions, which co-owns the event with The Vision Council. “Each year, we are challenged with sourcing and delivering the most innovative eyewear and eyecare products, technologies and comprehensive solutions for our attendees, their businesses and – ultimately – their patients.”

And meet that challenge they did. This year, an interactive map feature, SmartRoute, was added to the Vision Expo Mobile application, making it a breeze for participants to navigate the show floor – an extremely convenient feature considering all the expo had to offer.

While the show celebrated its past with special activities like a cocktail event and commemorative champagne glasses, VEW’s silver anniversary also had an eye on the future with the expansion of the six fashion and medical-related pavilions to include a brand new interactive showcase area called the Eye2 Zone.

The section offered attendees a look into some of the most interesting products unveiled at high-tech events like the International Consumer Electronics Show, and included daily Tech Talks which allowed for live demonstrations. Products and technologies featured in the Eye2 Zone varied from entertainment enhancers, like the Cinemizer by Carl Zeiss, and multimedia video glasses that combine 3D movie enjoyment with outstanding image quality and stereo sound, to advanced medical devices like the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System by Second Sight, an implant designed to bypass damaged photoreceptors in order to restore some functional vision to people suffering from blindness.

In fact, cutting-edge technology seemed to be the order of the day during the conference, with a number of exhibitors displaying never-before-seen materials, processes, designs and devices.

Transitions Optical announced the newest addition to the Transitions® family of products: Transitions Signature™ VII lenses with Chromea7™ technology. Using a new proprietary methodology – Life360™ – Transitions Signature VII lenses are more responsive to UV in more situations. The patented Chromea7 dye formulation allows the lenses to be more reactive to indirect sunlight and reflected sunlight.

SPY Optic was on hand with the recently debuted Happy Lens™, a patent-pending lens formula that provides 100 per cent UV protection and blocks more than 99 per cent of glare; it is also designed to harmonize with the body’s physiological preference for a specific colour transmission optimized through the wavelengths between 450 and 500 nanometers, where the uplifting effects of blue light are most prevalent.

ClearVision Optical led the discussion on 3D printing in the optical industry with a panel that included the company’s president, David Friedfeld, and Bruce Bradshaw, the director of marketing for Stratasys, a 3D printing company. Visitors to the booth were able to watch the printer in action, speak to 3D experts and question the group on this latest manufacturing development.

And amidst all the breakthroughs and advancements, Emmy Award-winning scientist Bill Nye was a special guest brought in by VSP Optics Group to help illustrate the science behind photochromic and blue light.

Indeed, with over 425 exhibitors featuring some 5,000 brands, lines and products, along with conference speakers delivering 325 hours of top-notch education, VEW organizers have proven admirably that, like a fine wine, they are only getting better with age!