Dispensing ophthalmologists can update skills, options

August 15, 2005

Show organizers have developed a new software tool that combs through massive amounts of show information and separates out those classes in which attendees might be interested.

The show, which runs Sept. 14 to 17 at Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, features more than 350 continuing education hours and 500-plus exhibiting companies in some 165,000 square feet of exhibit space.

Courses focus on a range of vision issues-from the proper fitting of frames and contact lenses to exploring the new options in lens technologies-and dabble in medical issues such as dry eye, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, low vision, and refractive surgery. Many of these courses can translate well for dispensing ophthalmologists looking to expand their-or their associate staff members'-knowledge of fitting issues and the proper selection of patients' eyewear.

To help you plan your trip, show organizers have developed a new software tool that combs through massive amounts of show information and separates out those classes in which you might be interested.

The free software, called Vision Connection, asks you to set parameters for the types of programs you would like to attend, then prepares a list and schedule based on your preferences. It also can be programmed to search continually the list of registrants you would like to meet and allow you to make contact before you go and establish times to meet at the show. As you review the list of classes, forums, and programs on the online schedule, you can click a button to "add to my show plan," to earmark those functions you want to investigate further. Visit the show's Web site ( http://www.visionexpo.com/) to check it out.

Attendees can pick and choose appealing classes, or opt for sets of programs geared to a particular topic. For example, the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists has designated seven sessions to present information on the management of unusual corneal and contact lens cases, plus updates on stem cell transplantation and fitting of at-risk cases.

Two new full-day programs, Magnify Your Future: Opportunities for Practice Growth in Low Vision, and Lab Owners & Managers Forum, will be held on Friday, Sept. 16. Friday also features the Optical Boot Camp-which organizers say is a "must" for all first-year optical employees-designed to give beginners all the skills they need to get started, with sessions on eye anatomy, optics, dispensing tactics and more.

Although a majority of ophthalmology patients are adults, several courses are geared to expand practices by offering tips on dealing with infants and young children. A panel presentation sponsored by Vistakon follows the life cycle of patients and offers tips on managing their vision concerns from infancy to old age. One lecture offers instruction on examining infants, while another addresses fitting kids with contact lenses.

Getting started

Those just getting started in dispensing will want to check out two sessions on Wednesday dedicated to the "latest and greatest" in frame and lens technology. These programs offer back- to-basics discussions of how to fit patients with the styles they want, while selling them on the products, advantages of owning multiple pairs of eyewear, how to manage price objections, and how to address challenging issues.

A series of sessions, beginning Wednesday afternoon, is offered for the professional frame buyer, to manage optical frames and business tactics. In the optical portion, the session will discuss frame design and materials, understanding the cost/value equation of various features, and market segmentation. In the business side, you will learn strategies for setting goals and objectives for the dispensary, and how to execute your plan, engage your team, and evaluate success.