Vision Expo 2011
I just returned from one of the most acclaimed optical conferences in the U.S. – Vision Expo West 2011. Lots of continuing education, ranging from new treatments for ocular disorders to new diagnostic tools for optical disorders; using social media communicate with patients, to best practices for managing optometric practices. Classes from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with a three hour break so I can explore the exhibition floor. Trying out new diagnostic equipment, getting photos taken of the inside of my eye, the back of my cornea, learning about new lenses, new technologies for fitting lenses, and checking out new exciting frame lines, and meeting top names in people who are on the cutting edge of optical – wow! Here are a few of the highlights from the show:
- Latest generation auto-refractor. In 10 seconds per eye, it provides an extremely accurate assessment of your prescription, a map of the contours of your cornea, details high order aberrations in your visual system never available before, and much, much more. This is an amazing piece of equipment, and we hope to have one in 2012!
- Fundus Camera. Being an optometric practice in a medical facility, we see a lot of patients with diabetes, which can result in vision-threatening loss of vision. Being able to take pictures of the back of the fundus would allow us to precisely follow troublesome changes in the back of the eye and help prevent loss of vision or even blindness. The new cameras provide unprecedented views of the layers of the retina, allowing faster and more accurate diagnosis of macular pathologies.
- Specral Microscope. The very inside layer of the cornea is called the endothelium, and it is only one cell layer thick. The cells do not regenerate – and they are a critical part of maintaining good vision in the eye. Being able to see exactly what is going on there can have profound impacts on decisions such as the type of cataract surgery an MD will perform for best results. While the technology has been around for awhile, there has been a big improvement in ease of operation and image assessment. This might be on my wish list for awhile.
- Better than 20/20 vision? New techniques in laser vision correction can now correct for high order aberrations, and provide vision of 20/10, or even 20/08! Absolutely amazing advances, with better and more predictable outcomes than before.
- Frame/lens/feature imaging systems. Combining a camera with a computer, these systems allow opticians to fit the latest generation digital lenses with incredible precision, delivering the best visual performance ever in prescription lenses. My Hoya laboratory representative just showed me a potential breakthrough that I'm really excited about, and I'll keep you posted as I get more news on that.
- Digital-Device Generation lenses. Twenty and thirty-somethings are spending more time than ever using digital devices – smart phones, tablets, laptops, hand-held video games and more. Due to technical aspects of digital displays, prolonged viewing causes interesting types of visual stress. This new lens design is created especially to relieve the fatigue caused by squinting at small, backlit screens. Early reviews make this look like a winner!
- Eyeglass frames. My absolute favorite at Vision Expo, I had to severely curtail my explorations of what's new in frame trends and designs this year. One that really stood out was a company called 141 Eyewear. Short story – for every pair of frames they sell, they donate one to a charity that provides free glasses for kids. Stay tuned, as I will be featuring them in an upcoming blog. Also liked: WileyX sun/safety eyewear; beautiful and unique LaFont Eyewear and ultra-blingy Caviar designs. I will be consulting with my staff to see if we can make any of these work for our patients.
- People. With one exception, the presenters of Continuing Education at Vision Expo were excellent, both knowledgable AND interesting! I attended a Tweetup sponsored by Vision Monday where I got to meet a lot of interesting and progressive providers and staff, and industry icons Dr. Alan Glazier and Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford. After the tweetup I went to dinner with Van Rue from Single Vision Express and Paul from Lab Ten Ten and talked optical until midnight. I met countless other dedicated professionals who have a passion for providing the very best vision care possible to patients.
The delivery of medical care – including vision care – is changing rapidly all across America. We face challenges that are going to take a lot of work and ingenuity to overcome. The good news is that new innovations are being brought out on a regular basis that will keep raising the bar on excellence in vision care. Stay tuned!