Tech and Fashion in Focus at International Vision Expo West

October 7, 2013

Smart eyewear that captures video and sunglasses that float were among the showstoppers at the International Vision Expo West, co-owned by Reed Exhibitions and The Vision Council, which took place Oct. 2-5 at the Sands Convention & Expo Center.

The show celebrated its 25th anniversary with strong numbers as attendance trended up 8 percent from 12,000 last year. Square footage was at 185,000 and exhibitor count was at 426, also showing positive trends.

“We’ve rebound quite nicely over the past several years,” said Courtney Muller, group vice president for Reed Exhibitions, about the show approaching pre-recession levels.

One of the major draws was Vision Monday’s Eye²Zone that offered an insider’s look at the latest vision technology unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

From biking glasses that sync with GPS and phone apps to retinal prosthesis to low vision goggles that help legally blind, it was a glimpse into the future.

“These products expand the capabilities of eyewear and the potential of human vision,” Muller said. “We approached these (CES) vendors and asked them to come here so that the optical stores can be aware of the latest in visual technology, potentially carry it and take care of their customers. We got tremendous feedback.”

The showfloor was busy not just around the tech pavilions, but also at booths where attendees stocked up on new frames ranging from value to high fashion to quirky.

“Glasses have evolved from being a functional piece to being an accessory,” said Deb Castor, vice president of Trade Shows for The Vision Council. “In Europe, it’s a piece of jewelry on your face, and this trend is catching on here. Celebrities are also helping the cause a lot. They are rocking eyewear.”

Castor and Muller commented on the growing success of the conference tailored for each audience segment at which registration also was up 12 percent.

Castor noted that the recent construction at the New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has allowed Vision Expo East to put the conference next to medical and diagnostic part of the show, which turned out to be a success. “We’d like to duplicate it here, but the Sands is very busy,” Castor said.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the show offered free lunch to conference registrants on Friday. The move was a hit, and the show now is considering offering it at future events.

Attendee Dr. Katharine Vidaurri, with Wegiel and Vidaurri Ophthalmology and Optometry Center, said she came for education and procurement.

“This is a one-stop-shop for us,” she said. “We’ve been coming for years, and it seems like it gets better every year.”

Vidaurri said she was excited to find a new gadget for their optical shop and a high-tech low vision gadget, adding, “Technology is making a statement here, and there’s a demand for it.”

Exhibitor Devon Howard, with Spy Optic, said he was pleased with the volume of orders for his “happy lens” products.

“This is our third year here and our business is growing,” he added. Referring to their bright-blue booth, Devon said, “People like the less clinical approach and relate to youthful and fun energy.”

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