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Saturday / April 13.
HomemieventsO=MEGA23 Trade Show Lights Up Industry

O=MEGA23 Trade Show Lights Up Industry

Ana Sedes on the ProOptics stand.

A tradeshow like no other welcomed visitors to O=MEGA23. With an array of stands – from the traditional booths of service providers, charities, and start-ups through to the imposing expansive stands of multinationals like EssilorLuxottica, delegates were privy to eyewear collections released ahead of SILMO in Paris, state-of-the-art equipment and an array of services to support the industry.

No-one could sum it up better than Jacque Katsieris, co-founder of ProOptics, who said the O=Mega23 trade show was “an amazing three days – the most amazing trade show we’ve ever done. The vibe’s been great, people are happy, they’re laughing… it’s been very good for business”. Here we present a snippet of what was on offer.

DESIGNS FOR VISION

At Designs for Vision, it was the Eidon Ultrawidefield that attracted most attention. Strategically positioned on the corner of the stand, and right at the entrance to the hall, Product Manager Cameron Loveless said this device has been “huge” for Designs for Vision because of its “ability for optometrists to get into the ultrawidefield space at a price most stable practices can afford”.

“With a small footprint and full automation, you can delegate imaging to staff, but the clincher is it maintains the image quality people are used to with a fundus camera, and through a 1.8mm pupil, so there’s less need for dilation. Studies show the clarity, resolution, and colour rendition of this device are next level.”

Sales Manager Will Robertson said myopia management tools were also of great interest to delegates.

“Measuring axial length for myopia management is huge so they were really interested to find out more about the Myopia Master and Pentacam AXL Wave.

“Myopia Master enables practitioners to measure patient myopia progression and track it against BHVI’s (Brien Holden Vision Institute’s) normative data embedded in Oculus software – these are details you can’t get through the BHVI app, including specific race and gender data.”

Mr Loveless said the Pentacam AXL Wave offers much more clinical value, however it comes as a significant investment.

“It’s probably the most expensive investment you’ll make in an optometric device because it does so much – from imaging the anterior all the way through to the lens, to refraction, disease diagnosis (based on normative curves of normal and abnormal) and wide scanning. Instead of stitching a number of topographic images together (which causes variations), you can get a single 22mm scan taking in the scleral, the cornea, the whole lot. This means you can get all the measurements needed for custom made contact lenses that fit perfectly, first time.

“It doesn’t have the myopia management software support of BHVI, but it is coming,” Mr Loveless said.

A message Mr Robertson was keen to deliver to buyers was the importance of investing in insurance to “avoid shock bills”.

“High tech devices need to be insured – freight alone can be AU$3,000 to get a device back to a manufacturer overseas, with the cost of repair on top. People should seriously consider making sure their equipment is insured or have an extended warranty that can be purchased… Preventative maintenance is also important – with high tech products you can’t afford to ignore it.”

OPTIQUE LINE

At Optique Line, Erika Siabatto, who recently joined the team, shared her perspective on the company’s presence at O=MEGA23. She expressed the goal of fostering relationships with the company’s valued accounts and presenting the latest collections, including those designed for an ‘Asian Fit’, which received an enthusiastic response. Ms Siabatto noted, “We’ve experienced significant sales success, even with these items not yet featured in our catalogues”.

Under the guidance of Ms Siabatto, the innovative stand at O=MEGA23 represented a fresh direction for Optique Line. She emphasised the company’s commitment to embracing a more contemporary design approach while maintaining its hallmark warmth and hospitality. “This is our new standard, from here we are doing a lot of new exciting things,” she said.

EYEBENEFIT

With more than 300 members, EyeBenefit has quietly become one of the country’s strongest buying groups in the optometric sector. And according to co-founder Ken Rogers, it’s because the small (but growing) team at head office provides practices with personalised support and keeps things manageable by working with a limited number of suppliers, selected in consultation with members.

Co-founder Matt Garratt said Eyebenefit’s growth has been “organic, by word-of mouth”. “We don’t over-saturate geographic areas, so no one is competing – they all lift each other up by sharing experiences and information. We had a lot of good conversations at the show. We’re not really interested in new growth, we’re more about consolidating the members we have and bringing them together.”

Marketing Manager Lisa Cappucio added, “There’s a lot of trust that goes into our supplier and members relationships… We are very hands off – we let them be who they want to be, and choose which suppliers they want to use. We act as an extension to every one of their businesses – like an inhouse marketing agency. People dip in and out to try things as they need.”

HOYA

Ulli Hentschel, National Training and Development Manager of HOYA, said his company’s stand had generated significant interest at O=MEGA23, with “an excellent representation of all professions in the industry”, including entire practice teams on site from interstate, stopping by.

“It’s a really good way to get people to understand what the whole industry is about,” he observed.

Having entered the ODMA awards with two products in different categories and won both (Lens Design with MiyoSmart and Lens Coating with HiVision Meiryo Diamond, which was launched at the show), Marketing Manager Krista Hoey said, “it doesn’t get any better than that”.

“To win an award is great, but to be launching a product that’s already award winning is really unusual,” she said.

HOYA also chose O=MEGA23 to reveal a yet-to-be-launched dispensing platform accessible via an iPad Pro. This compact mobile dispensing device is an alternative to the existing wall mounted VisuReal Master, which creates the “wow factor” but does take up valuable floor space in smaller practices.

Mr Henstchel explained that the new platform utilises the iPad Pro lidar scanner, which is used for 3D image mapping in many industries.

“With the new measurement app, the camera and lidar images are combined to create incredibly accurate measurements without the need to use any mounting hardware (jig) on the frame. It will also take a near measurement picture which enables us to measure near PD and see where they’re looking through the frame. This helps us understand the corridor so we can customise the lens design.”

As well as being portable, he noted that the iPad Pro used for this new system can be used for other purposes.

HOYA is now working to integrate lens prescribing, dispensing, ordering, and tracking into an automated, seamless experience that will bring about new efficiencies for optometry practices. The platform, which was being demonstrated on the stand, attracted crowds across all three days of the show.

OPHTHALMOPRO

According to Tristan Parker, National Sales Manager – Optometry, OphthalmoPro, the product that generated the greatest interest on his stand was Espansione’s eye-light intense pulsed light (IPL) device.

“Standalone IPL devices have been around for some time, however this is the first twoin-one device which enables operators to combine intense pulsed light with low-level light therapy (LLLT). The device benefits from a global community of optometrists and ophthalmologists publishing scientific papers providing an evidence base for its efficacy,” Mr Parker explained.

He said the eye-light is the only IPL system that doesn’t require the patient to use any face gel, which further enhances the patient experience and makes it easier to use for the operator.

The device further benefits from its LLLT mask, patented photobiomodulation technology that Mr Parker said has set a new medical standard in painlessly and effectively treating patients and the majority of ocular surface conditions.

“The LLLT mask works very differently to traditional IPL. Near infrared LEDs stimulate mitochondria in the cells and promote healing immediately. Patients experience improvements after the first session, such as their tear break-up time (TBUT).

“The mask simultaneously heats the upper and lower lids to 42º – this is also referred to as cold laser therapy – so the mask will stay cool while creating the endogenous heat internally. This process causes the glands to secrete naturally with less need to manually express meibum.”

Mr Parker said the eye-light’s photobiomodulation mask is also being successfully used for non-surgical resolution of chalazion and styes. “It can be used on children as young as four years old and any skin pigment, unlike traditional IPL systems, further increasing the patients you can treat.”

He said clinical studies are underway using this device for dry age-related macular degeneration with a combination of red and yellow masks. These innovative findings will be presented at the upcoming EURETINA conference.

“They’re also currently undertaking clinical studies using the LLLT mask for myopia management. This is a very exciting space, and we look forward to helping educate people on the scientific opportunities utilising photobiomodulation,” he told mivision.

FRANK SEED

Forget machining, Francis Hwang, the creative behind Frank Seed, handcrafts eyewear from start to finish, beginning by working with dispensers to measure up patients in their practices and help them select colours, shapes etc for the frame they want. Shiny one side, the other side matte; square, round, hexagonal, oblique; any combination of colours – customers can literally have any shape, size or finish they like. He then hand cuts, polishes, and assembles the piece using acetates sourced from Mazzuchelli in Italy and Daicel in Japan.

One frame takes about three hours to make, so Mr Hwang can make five or six frames a day with an assistant. To completely turn around a frame, it takes about two weeks, and then the frame is handed over to the optometrist to source the lenses.

With each frame likened to a piece of art, he concedes this output is “very limited”, yet so far, the orders haven’t stopped coming in. “It’s a sustainable business, we’re getting enough orders to keep us going,” he said.

If you’re interested, Mr Hwang conducts workshops in his studio in Lidcombe in Sydney’s west, where he guides you through the process of making your own frame.

PLINY

One of the most talked about exhibitors among device companies was Pliny, the Australian-based diagnostic imaging and data retrieval platform.

Pliny founder, James Manners, who is an engineer by trade, started to develop the platform seven years ago when an ophthalmologist asked him to integrate data from his practice management system, electronic medical records, and diagnostic equipment.

“The technology we built there became Pliny. It’s deliberately vendor independent, so we work with everyone to provide a platform that gives clinicians the choice to use the equipment they want to use for their clinical needs, in a way that makes their practice efficient and easy,” Mr Manners said.

“There are advantages to using devices from one manufacturer, but clinical technology is changing all the time. That means optometry and ophthalmology practices are constantly upgrading and replacing equipment, so there’s no such thing as a homogenous eco system, they’d have any number of devices and they need to make them work.”

Currently, to integrate data from various devices he said, “The status quo is manual intervention”.

“There are solutions that do a lot of what we do, but we think we’re fast and easy to use, in a clinically relevant context. Being cloud-based, we unlock the power of the data, integrate with AI (artificial intelligence) systems, and provide that as an integrated tool. Pliny is not an extra step for clinical use, it happens automatically, to facilitate collaboration between ophthalmologists and optometrists (within and outside the organisation) so patient data can be securely moved around as raw data that can be imported and analysed.”

Along with being used at over 80 sites by ophthalmologists and a small number of independent optometry practices, Pliny has been picked up by BUPA. Devices within the Optometry School clinic at the University of Western Australia and at the Australian College of Optometry have been integrated with Pliny.

EYES RIGHT OPTICAL

Project Green, winner of the ODMA award for Sustainable Eyewear, was a massive attraction on the Eyes Right Optical stand. As Eyes Right Optical co-owner Mark Wymond said of the collection, “This is going to be where the industry standard is in five years – there’s no compromise on look, feel, comfort or quality – in fact they’re better quality than many others… It’s like the Tesla of sustainable eyewear.”

Mr Wymond stumbled upon Project Green while travelling overseas and partnered with the company to help with product development. Now Project Green has a growing presence in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. Every Project Green frame is made from biodegradable acetate and housed in a reconstituted leather case. For every frame sold, Eyes Right supports the planting of a tree by making a donation to One Tree Planted.

“As a company, Eyes Right has always done a lot of eco-friendly things – we’ve installed solar panels, we use recycled water, and grow vegetables in our company garden, but (until Project Green) we didn’t have an ecocollection,” Mr Wymond explained. “Buying groups were demanding it and so we stepped up. We’ve been flat out (at O=MEGA23). There have been people in front of the display the whole time, it’s been overwhelming.”

He said the buying interest and winning the ODMA Sustainability Award were “real validation of what the industry is looking for”.

As well as Project Green, Eyes Right had familiar brands on display and new collections from William Morris and Charles Stone, two globally successful brands that recently moved across to his company following their sale to Design Eyewear Group.

GOOD OPTICAL

At the Good Optical stand, Marissa and Rick Good and their team were constantly inundated by delegates keen to find out more about their accessories, including dry eye products and the award-winning eyewear make-up, Èyes Are the Story.

Ms Good was thrilled to see Èyes Are the Story pick up the ODMA award in the Optical Accessories category.

“I’m really passionate about Èyes Are The Story – (founder) Amy Gallant Sullivan has put years of research and work into it – so it’s nice to see it has been accepted by the industry … and it is validation for everything that Amy and her company have produced,” she said.

“Èyes Are The Story is something specific for the optical industry. You can genuinely offer something for your dry eye patients, as well as patients with allergies, or whose eye lashes are just growing back after cancer treatment. All of these people can now still wear eye makeup, it’s healthy and safe to use, because there are no nasty ingredients.”

While at O=MEGA23, Ms Good said optometrists had been coming on to the stand to congratulate the team on stocking the product and to provide feedback.

“They’re telling us they’re using it, and their patients are using it, and they’re all happy with it – it’s really exciting for us. We can’t keep up with demand, especially for the mascaras – we’re waiting on a huge shipment of mascaras to come through; we have a thousand on back order alone.”

Ms Good said she is also waiting on the first shipment of the new eyeshadows. “They’re a creamier texture so there is no powder to get onto the ocular surface and they come in a beautiful palette of soft colours.”