BY THE TIME YOU read this, the National Opticians Conference will just be over. Funded by the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE), the conference boasts a notable lineup of opticianry organizations as educational partners, including the National Academy of Opticianry, the Opticians Association of America, the Contact Lens Society of America, and the National Federation of Opticianry Schools, along with an array of media partners, such as First Vision Media Group. This conference “by opticians and for opticians” seems like a good idea for the profession.
The 2010 attendee quote on the Web site for this event sums up the sentiment many opticians are feeling: “I think it is wonderful that all associations have finally come together at one major conference such as this, giving the sense of all working toward a common goal.” This comment is more poignant than you might realize as discovered in the recently published “State of Opticianry” white paper, researched and produced by First Vision Media Group and sponsored by Essilor of America, Inc.
As indicated in this paper, the profession of opticianry used to be dominated by men and independent business ownership was the goal of many opticians. When chain retailing emerged in the ‘70s, independent opticianry was not prepared to make the adjustments needed. Through myriad business, economic, and political changes over the decades since, the profession has floundered. Even so, the opticianry profession is the backbone of eyewear dispensing. No one in an optical office has more influence over eyewear sales than the opticians, something that should be carefully assessed by opticianry’s leadership and capitalized upon.
What is opticianry’s future? I’ll let you decide when you read the “State of Opticianry” (available at TotallyOptical.com). From my perspective, it’s time for opticianry to have a meeting of all its national organizations so it can create a strategic plan for the entire profession. Sure, each of opticianry’s national organizations has an organizational plan, but there is no unifying plan for the profession.
With hundreds of opticians meeting at the National Opticians Conference and all of the national organizations having meetings there, it’s clear this kind of “summit” can be accomplished. All of opticianry’s national organizations have excellent intentions but they work completely uncoordinated with their national counterparts in other organizations. A unified strategic plan makes sense. The question is when something like this might occur. It’s well overdue.