The Vision Council, through the Better Vision Institute, is pleased to launch the Open Your Eyes Scholarship Program, a charity designed to support high school students in marginalized communities throughout the United States who have an interest in pursuing a career in the optical industry. The program will support selected students through monetary scholarships to opticianry school, paid internships and mentorships. The intent of the program is to launch a far-reaching effort that can expand to other segments of the industry.
The Better Vision Institute is an Educational Foundation connected to The Vision Council. While largely inactive for the last several years, The Vision Council has continued to maintain the Foundation until it was needed. The Foundation will now be activated to make educational grants.
“We all take great pride in how much vision impacts lives, and this scholarship is an extension of that, showing how the vision community can impact lives, as well,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “With the support of the vision care community, we will provide deserving students with not only the resources, but also the tools, guidance and work experience they need to succeed. We invite the vision care community to help us reach our goal of raising $1 million dollars by making a donation. Together, we can launch the next generation of opticianry students.”
“Some of the communities we will be working with have a mean household income that is less than the average licensed dispensing optician’s salary. Therefore, the tools and skills this scholarship will provide have the potential to truly change some of these students’ lives,” said Tarrence Lackran, Director of Programs and Partnerships at The Vision Council. “In addition, being able to bring professionals to our industry from diverse racial backgrounds will elevate our industry and fill the need for a more inclusive community.”
To kick off the scholarship program launch, The Vision Council and the Better Vision Institute are hosting a virtual auction, featuring exceptional items and experiences donated by The Vision Council’s members. The auction starts today, January 20 at 9:00 am EST and bids will be accepted until Wednesday, January 27 at 6:30 pm EST, following a virtual happy hour hosted by Ashley Mills, The Vision Council’s CEO, during the organization’s 2021 Executive Summit.
Presented under the banner of “A Celebration of OPTImism,” the virtual happy hour will take place from 5:30–6:30 pm EST on Wednesday, January 27 and will feature a surprise special guest appearance by a multi-Grammy-award winning artist.
To register for The Vision Council’s Executive Summit, click here.
All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the scholarship program. To view the auction items and make a bid, visit 32auctions.com/O-YES.
Christopher Lentocha, new Director of Service.
Coburn Technologies, Inc. is pleased to welcome Christopher Lentocha to their service team as their new Director of Service. Lentocha will lead and implement Coburn’s service plans for their United States and Latin America markets. This will include providing leadership, guidance, training and support to the field service team, technical support, and Customer Care Center departments.
“Chris has experience in the optical and medical industries, bringing more than 17 years of service experience to Coburn. He has broad industry knowledge when it comes to customer satisfaction, strategic planning, operations management, and more. He will be an integral addition to our team,” states Coburn’s President, Alex Incera. “We are very impressed with Chris’ achievements and credentials as it relates to business acumen and keen attention to customer needs. As we continuously refine our attention to service, Chris’ qualifications will further drive our customer successes.”
Lentocha started his service career at Gerber Optical in 1994, and continued with Gerber Coburn, Gerber Products, and then at Gerber Scientific managing the shared services call center for 4 years. His latest roles included Director of Customer Service at VITAS Healthcare, Customer Service Design and Contracts Manager at Pelican Products, Inc., and then Patient Call Center Manager at Meridian Medical Management.
“I am impressed with Coburn’s service team and I am excited to join them,” Lentocha said. “My role will be to oversee and lead the field service team, technical support and Customer Care Center. Coburn has taken great strides to enhance the customer experience in 2020, and I look forward to collaborating with the team and building relationships with customers in the new year and beyond.”
“Working with and knowing Chris for many years, I know he will be a fundamental addition to the team and will foster strong relationships with our customers to successfully meet and exceed their support and service needs,” states Alex Incera. “Chris’ background in the optical and medical industries makes him a valuable source of expertise for both our customers and our team, and our service department will only improve because of this.”
The Vision Council shared details on the themed breakout sessions planned for the 2021 Executive Summit, taking place virtually from January 26–28, 2021.
On Wednesday, January 27 and Thursday, January 28, The Vision Council will present three breakout sessions each day focused on the topics of Senior Leadership Tactics, Marketing Strategies and Telehealth. Hosted by industry leaders and presented under the unifying concept of “The Pivot: Changing Your Mindset During Difficult Times,” the sessions will highlight how optical leaders are tackling the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses and what strategies they plan on employing in 2021.
The three breakout sessions will take place concurrently each day and attendees will have the option to select the breakout session that is most pertinent to their business needs.
Each day, the Senior Leadership and Marketing Strategy breakouts will feature moderated conversations led by industry experts, with a rotating group of panelists comprised of both industry leaders and experts from other fields, followed by Q&A sessions with the audience. The Telehealth breakout, offered both days, will feature a comprehensive forecast for 2021 followed by an interactive Q&A session.
“A complement to the comprehensive industry overview we will provide during other points of the Executive Summit, like the state of the industry session, the themed breakouts will allow attendees to customize their Executive Summit experience and dig deeper into the topics that are most relevant to their interests,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “We have designed the sessions to be engaging and interactive, with a curated group of the industry’s most well-respected leaders and experts, as well as several exciting guests from other fields, slated to host these thought-provoking conversations.”
On Wednesday, January 27, the breakout sessions will take place from 2:15–3:00 p.m. EST. Attendees will have the option to attend the session of their choice from the three topics listed below:
Wednesday, January 27; 2:15–3:00 p.m. EST
Option 1: Senior Leadership: Leading Your Team in a Post-Pandemic World
Marc Ferrara, president, Jobson Optical Group, and Marge Axelrad, senior vice president, editorial director of Vision Monday/VMAIL, will co-moderate a panel featuring a distinct group of senior optical industry executives during which they will explore the tactics these leaders have implemented to design their approach for 2021. Boasting diverse backgrounds across different segments of the optical industry, the panelists will share insights into the consumer and patient mindsets; how priorities have changed; and how they are refocusing their teams to be nimble in a fluid business environment.
Wednesday’s featured speakers will include:
• David Gilboa, Co-CEO, Warby Parker
• Kate Renwick-Espinosa, President, VSP Vision Care
• Marty Bassett, CEO, Walman Optical
Option 2: Adapting Marketing Strategies in the Age of a Pandemic
Moderated by Erinn Morgan, Editor-in-Chief at Eyecare Business Magazine, this marketing-focused breakout session will feature critical insights and innovative ideas through a conversation with Jonah Berger, PH.D, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and internationally bestselling author of Contagious, Invisible Influence, and The Catalyst, and Chase Fisher, founder and CEO at Blenders Eyewear.
Designed to help marketing executives examine their own focus and define new ways of doing business during the pandemic and beyond, key discussion points will include: social listening; the power of hosting virtual events; telling authentic stories to speak to the new normal; and the critical value of social and philanthropic efforts.
Option 3: Telehealth: Overview of the Economics of Telehealth in Eyecare in 2021
Bryan Rogoff, OD, senior product manager, disease management at Zeiss Meditec, will share essential information about the economics of telehealth in eyecare, followed by a collaborative discussion with attendees about how industry partners can formulate a telehealth strategy.
On Thursday, January 28, the breakout sessions will take place from 1:30–2:15 p.m. EST. Attendees will have the option to attend the session of their choice from the three topics listed below:
Thursday, January 28; 1:30-2:15 p.m. EST
Option 1: Senior Leadership: Leading Your Team in a Post-Pandemic World
On the second day of the Senior Leadership breakout, Marc Ferrara, president, Jobson Optical Group, and Marge Axelrad, senior vice president, editorial director of Vision Monday/VMAIL, will co-moderate a conversation with a different group of senior optical industry executives exploring leadership tactics and disciplines for 2021.
Thursday’s featured speakers will include:
• Fabrizio Uguzzoni, President, Luxottica Wholesale N.A.
• Karen Roberts, Vice President Global Business Solutions/Customer Enablement, Carl Zeiss Vision International
• Michael Bender, President and CEO, Eyemart Express
Option 2: Storytelling in 2020: How It Changed and What It Taught Us
Moderated by Dee Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of INVISION Magazine, this panel will explore how high-touch, experiential, and service-oriented businesses pivoted their messaging to keep their consumers informed, engaged and reassured. The speakers will share their experience of pivoting their organization’s approach in 2020 to remain sensitive to current events and continue to serve their customers. They will also discuss their lessons learned so other consumer-facing, service-focused businesses can handle any crisis that may arise going forward.
Featured speakers include:
• Michael A. “Mick” Kling, OD, Founder and CEO, Invision Optometry
• John Deluna, Vice President of Marketing, AEG Vision
• Samar Younes, Vice President, Creative Director, SHOWFIELDS
Option 3: Telehealth: Overview of the Economics of Telehealth in Eyecare in 2021
Bryan Rogoff, OD, senior product manager, disease management at Zeiss Meditec, will again share essential information about the economics of telehealth in eyecare, followed by a collaborative discussion about how industry partners can formulate a telehealth strategy.
The Vision Council’s 2021 Executive Summit is taking place for the first time in a virtual format from January 26–28, 2021 under the banner of “An OPTImistic View of the Future.” Over the course of three days, The Executive Summit will illuminate the state of the industry, spotlight key business trends and present actionable approaches to confronting the challenges of the marketplace through a robust schedule of engaging presentations, interactive panels and personalized networking sessions.
The centerpiece of the tooz smart glass technology is the curved lens with several refractive and reflective free-form surfaces.
tooz technologies has developed an optical platform which enables cost-effective, unobtrusive and turnkey smart glass solutions. In December 2020, the German start-up, a spin-off from Zeiss and today a Zeiss-Telekom joint-venture, launched its first smart glasses developer kit in China. Software developers are hereby given the opportunity to explore the potential of this eyewear revolution for day-to-day use in one of the most promising future markets.
tooz launched its so called “tooz DevKit 20” first and foremost in China in December 2020. The introduction in Europe and further markets around the globe will follow sequentially this year. By providing the smart glasses and a collection of software development tools, tooz explicitly approaches the developer community. The aim is to explore value-adding use cases, to enable the creation of compatible applications for end consumers and to get feedback for the final stage of the product development process.
Connected via Bluetooth to a mobile device, tooz smart glasses discreetly deliver content into the wearer’s peripheral, enhancing the essential function of everyday glasses. The centerpiece of the solution is the unobtrusive optical engine with its several refractive and reflective free-form surfaces. In the near future, the injection-molded, curved lenses will also be available with prescription. With the tooz DevKit 20, tooz developed a seamlessly integrated smart glass solution which ensures an appealing form factor of the glasses: The lenses including waveguide and prescription can be cut and edged in various shapes. In combination with specifically designed frames, the individual style and design preferences of end consumers will be served.
The Vision Council has released its quarterly VisionWatch market research reports for Q3 of 2020, indicating a net increase of 1.2 million vision correction users year over year from September 2019 to September 2020 and $37.46 billion in retail revenues during the same period. Designed exclusively for the optical industry, the VisionWatch research reports are released on a quarterly basis and survey trends in consumer behavior regarding eye exams and eyewear, analyze developments in the U.S. eye care market, and provide key market and product category statistics.
To download the Q3 2020 reports, visit The Vision Council’s Research Download Center, here.
“As 2020 comes to a close, the results of the Q3 reports reflect the many challenges faced by the vision care market this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vision care market generated $37.46 billion in retail revenues, representing a steep decline of 14.2% compared to the previous year,” said Steve Kodey, senior director of industry research at The Vision Council. “We are seeing some positive growth, however. After experiencing quarterly declines in frame unit sales earlier this year, for example, frame unit sales increased by 3.5% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the third quarter of 2019. This increase seems to reflect a change in consumer behavior as consumers were able to follow through with purchases that were postponed during the first and second quarter.”
Findings – eyecare providers and internet sales
Based on the results of the Q3 reports, The Vision Council estimates that independent eyecare providers, representing the largest segment of the vision care community, have experienced a 13.2% decline in sales since September 2019. Despite this decrease in independent eyecare provider revenues, the number of consumers making purchases after receiving an eye exam at an independent eyecare provider, also known as the capture rate, has increased by 5% since March 2020.
As internet sales and services continue to influence consumer purchasing habits, The Vision Council examines online sales trends in the optical industry. Below are a few notable online sales findings that occurred during the 12-month period ending September 2020:
• About 12.9% of all eyeglass Rx lens and frame unit purchases occurred online during the 12-month ending period September 2020, which equates to 8.57 million pairs of eyeglasses.
• Roughly 8.3 million pairs of plano sunglasses were sold over the internet during the 12-month ending period September 2020, which represents 10.4% of all plano sunglass sold during that period of time.
Contact lens market experienced growth
Additionally, the results of the Q3 reports indicate that the contact lens market was the only major optical market to experience revenue growth during the 12-month period ending September 2020, with sales up 1.1% to $4.42 billion, even after experiencing a slight decline in the overall number of users during the same 12-month period.
Managed Vision Care
The Vision Council also gauges the overall level of Managed Vision Care (MVC) coverage among the U.S. adult population to better understand the evolving MVC landscape. MVC highlights featured in the Q3 results are as follows:
• The number of adults with MVC coverage dropped by about 3.7% since September 2019, which is a net loss of roughly 4.8 million adult covered lives.
• The strongest usage/utilization of MVC benefits to buy eyewear over the past year occurred among women, adults under 55 years of age, adults with higher annual household incomes (over $60,000 per year), and people from the Western region of the country.
Future Outlook at 2021 Executive Summit
Steve Kodey, senior director of industry research at The Vision Council, will present a Q3 analysis and future outlook presentation at The Vision Council’s upcoming 2021 Executive Summit, taking place in a virtual format from Jan. 26–28.
The ongoing VisionWatch study provides The Vision Council’s members with exclusive insights into the optical marketplace’s current and historical trends, retailer shares, consumer traits and demographic breakdowns. The Vision Council issues other topical research reports throughout the year that are available for purchase.
For more information on The Vision Council’s VisionWatch reports, and for member access to the Q3 reports, visit The Vision Council’s Research Download Center, here.
Jean Gehrig, founder of SCL International.
Jean Gehrig, founder of SCL International, a cleaning and hard coating machine manufacturer based in France, passed away in November 2020. For all who met Jean, they will remember a gentleman, a professional, a real entrepreneur.
He was an electrical engineer who founded two companies before SCL International was formed in 1993, producing dip coating technology. Jean’s last initiative was joining Essilor and the Satisloh group, ensuring the future of the success story he built. He retired in 2017 and his son Denis assumed leadership of the company.
MAFO visited SCL International a few years ago in 2011. Please follow this link to find out how it all started: with a father and his son, Jean and Denis Gehrig, strong passion and pure family power.