The newly renamed Venetion Expo convention center (formerly Sands Expo) was host to last week’s Vision Expo West, an event for professionals in the eye care industry: Optome- trists, Ophthalmologists, etc. I have attended this event before and I like it because I am a glasses-wearer and I particularly like seeing the latest designs of eyeglasses. Some 280 exhibitors were at this event.
What did I see this year? Lots of beefy frames. One bold frame, called Goliath, I was told was introduced in 1979 and still is a big seller with a retail price of $300 just for the frames.
On the other hand, I visited a couple sellers who had rather plain, but nice looking frames with wholesale prices of $3.99 and $5.99. Another seller mentioned that 80 percent of frames these days are manufactured in China, though one seller said he had one of his brands made in China (his lowest price point), another brand made in Japan (the mid-price point) and a new brand made in Texas. He seemed to indicate that the “made in America” brand was just insurance against somehow not being able to secure the overseas frames or folks rejecting overseas frames.
I spoke with one manufacturer of eye testing machines, because I had seen similar devices in my eye doctor’s office. I mentioned that I thought my particular eye exams are feeling rather skimpy these days — taking almost no time at all. The lady in charge pointed to one of their machines noting that in 90 seconds seven different eye tests can be done at once. Ah ha…modern miracles. I guess I remembered the first eye exams I had which seemed to take a very long time before “results” were announced.
By the way, one of the big machines at the show whose job, I was told, was a “lens edger” (the professional description must be more complicated). The machine had a sold sign and the buyer paid nearly $500,000. So the frames can be inexpensive, but the lenses aren’t. (I did see some pricey frames that had integrated cactus, mint, mushrooms and “other woods” into the frame material.) Of course, I saw lots of “branding” on the frames. Among the names I saw on particular frames were Vera Bradley, Prada, Tiffiny & Co. Valentino and Armani. I also saw one brand (for kids, I think) marked “dillydally”. And finally, for older adults who like to take glasses off and have them hang down like a necklace, the title I saw was “Peeper Keepers”. Cute.
Also I noted that a number of European manufacturers were on site. Denmark and Spain were represented, as was a Slovanian company whose designer was on site, but who mentioned his designs were all manufactured in Japan.
Other notable sights: a new little cubicle just right for a table and two chairs. I hadn’t seen such a cubicle before and I did see some occupants, though most booths had tables where conversations would be held.
I was particularly interested in the number of exhibitors who were promoting eye drops or other treatments for dry eyes. This show is in Las Vegas, home of dry eyes, so they were very welcome.
I took videos during my visit, but the ambient noise was so loud that my voice wasn’t clear. The show had hired a couple of DJs to keep the atmosphere very lively.
Vision Expo West is co-organized by The Vision Council and RX. Among the offerings are more than 200 hours of seminars for attendees. One of the “fun” special events for attendees was an opening night party featuring “Tye EyeDocs of Rock”, the longtime rock band composed of several practicing optometrists. The band is more than 30 years old and has appeared at a number of optometrist events over the years.
The Venetian Resort Las Vegas is currently owned by Apollo Global Management & Vici Properties, having paid 6.25 billion for the property. The Venetian Expo is the largest privately-owned convention center in the US. Vici is a New-York-based real estate investment trust affiliated with Caesars Entertainment Inc.