International Vision Expo & Conference East closed on Sunday, April 17 to increased attendance, as more than 16,000 attendees gathered in New York to celebrate the conference’s 30 years of empowering the optical community through dynamic education, exclusive buying opportunities and meaningful partnerships.

Early reports show that attendance for 2016 matched Vision Expo’s record-breaking levels from 2012 and 2014. More than 5,000 global brands were represented, with attendees traveling to the conference from all 50 United States and 94 countries. Education registration broke records for overall attendance as well as unprecedented participation by students and special events held in conjunction with the show maxed out venue capacities.

“The strong attendance this year, coupled with the feedback we’ve had from exhibitors that business was strong, demonstrates the continued growth and relevance of Vision Expo,” said Tom Loughran, industry vice president, Reed Exhibitions. “In addition to attendees and exhibitors, Vision Expo attracted media and influencers who regard Vision Expo as a leading resource for making the connection to global eyewear brands and thought-leaders in eyecare.”

Hundreds of exhibitors leveraged the exposure opportunities at Vision Expo to launch new products, technology and showcase the latest fashion trends to a heavy media presence, including strong representation from fashion bloggers and popular consumer outlets such as People Magazine, Promenade, and Yahoo Style & Travel.

The success of Vision Expo East was furthered by the conference’s strong affiliate partner network that championed the value and impact of International Vision Expo through hosting more than 50 meetings and events, including the co-location of the annual meeting of the New York State Optometric Association. The conference also enhanced its OPTimum program and introduced new partnerships with buying groups, providing members with improved access to Vision Expo exhibitors and products.

These partnerships and other key strategic efforts for 2016 focused on enhancing the attendee experience, attracting new buyers, improving exhibitor satisfaction and ensuring a strong and relevant conference program. Highlights included:

A new attendee Buying Program developed to maximize the Vision Expo shopping experience, making it easier to find, sort and benefit from hundreds of exclusive show specials;
The introduction of its Take 30 Lounges and the availability of free Wi-Fi, provided by Think About Your Eyes, providing attendees new customized and engaging gathering spaces on the show floor;
Its New Designer Gallery showcasing emerging and fashion-forward designers;
350 hours of education, including 143 hours of newly developed content addressing top-of-mind issues in clinical, optical technology and business solutions education.
Co-owned by The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions, International Vision Expo has been a critical supporter of Vision Council programs that have generated over 16 billion consumer media impressions with messages about digital eye strain, UV protection, eyewear fashion, vision health and the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams.

One campaign in particular, The Vision Council’s Think About Your Eyes campaign of which Vision Expo is a proud supporter, has contributed to more than 1.5 million new eye exams. Recognizing the impact the initiative has had on patient awareness as well as business for the ECP community, the initiative has been added to Vision Expo’s hallmark visionaries campaign for 2017.

“The success of Vision Expo is what makes programs like Think About Your Eyes and others possible,” said Ashley Mills, Vice President of Trade Shows and Meetings, The Vision Council. “International Vision Expo brings together the entire industry to support, strengthen and grow the optical community. Think About Your Eyes allows the entire industry to have collective impact, reaching consumers and affecting their behavior. Ultimately, together, we are connecting consumers with optometrists to improve their vision health.”

Vision Expo East returns to the Javits Center in March 2017 (Education: March 30 – April 2, Exhibition: March 31 – April 2.)