When civilization began (a period called Neolithic, just FYI), small communities lived at great distances from each other and pretty much stayed in one place when agriculture took over and hunting and gathering became so last millennium.

To compensate for this, various tribes would make annual or semi-annual pilgrimages to a sacred meeting place where they’d all come together for a multi-day celebration. This usually happened on the solstices (think Stonehenge). But in addition to celebrating, feasting, and occasionally sacrificing a few living things to the forces of nature, these early humans did a lot of what we now call “networking.” Gatherings of this sort were opportunities to share news, technology developments, and conduct trading (which often included offering one’s marriageable offspring to another tribe in exchange for a few goats).

These assemblies were a source of physical and psychic renewal for early peoples. They’d be enriched with new ideas, concepts, and procedures that would ultimately improve their lives.

Today, we celebrate the equivalent in the form of conventions, which for the optical community is International Vision Expo.

The spring and fall Expos have been a staple of our industry for nearly 30 years and serve as strategic time markers around which to plan the business year. There’s that which happens before Expo and that which happens after Expo, but what occurs at Expo is what drives the optical industry year-round.

The Expos offer more than 600 exhibits and well over 300 hours of education; they’re the sites of more important product launches and company debuts over the last three decades than any other venue in optical. They attract optical people from all around the U.S. and the world. The Expos are where relationships form, partnerships are made, and strategies mapped out.

Yet despite these facts, there are still a good number within the optical citizenry who choose not to attend one or both Expos. The excuses are many-short on time, money, energy. Or arguments like, “my rep shows me everything new” or “I can get my educational credits locally.”

Unfortunately, with an industry that is moving and changing at the pace of 21st-century optical, one cannot afford to make excuses. Those who plan to be here next year, in five years, or for decades to come need to experience Expo. It’s where optical people come to be enriched…and renewed.

(NOTE: Vision Expo East takes place at the Jacob Javits Center, New York City, March 19-22. For more information and to register, go to:

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