100% Optical

“100% Optical is an opportunity to get back into our community”

After a two year gap, the UK’s biggest optical event returned at the weekend, bringing the profession face-to-face

100% Optical catwalk
The UK’s leading optical trade show, 100% Optical 2022, made its return at the weekend after a two-year gap due to the pandemic, drawing attendees from across the optometry profession, voluntary sector, and eyewear and optics industry.

Held from 23–25 April, the three-day event featured over 130 hours of CPD content, compiled by the AOP, and covering key topics from paediatric dispensing and myopia, to delivering shared ophthalmic care and optical coherence tomography interpretation.

Event director, Nathan Garnett, commented: “100% Optical has been a phenomenal hit.”

“We have had three days of catching up on lost time from a sector that has really missed meeting face-to-face,” he added.

The catwalk played host to the newest eyewear styles for spring and summer, while the Love Eyewear Awards saw Feb31st, Otro Eyewear, Larmaca, and International Eyewear among brands taking home trophies.

The exhibition gathered independent designers, international brands, and the newest technology and solutions from optical suppliers.

Commenting on the education programme at 100% Optical 2022, Dr Ian Beasley, OT clinical editor and head of education for the AOP, said: “It is clear from the attendance levels over the weekend and the positive feedback received, that delegates were delighted to return once again to the largest optical event in the calendar.”

“While the AOP has been supporting our members through an extensive programme of virtual education throughout the pandemic, we were pleased to be able to deliver key content and provide expert advice in a face-to-face environment this weekend,” he continued, adding that planning for the 2023 show has already begun.

In the run-up to the show, the AOP and Media 10 announced the continuation of their partnership to deliver 100% Optical until 2025. The AOP has supported the show as official UK partner since its launch nine years ago.

On the Sunday of the show, the AOP hosted an evening reception, recognising the response of the profession to the pandemic.

Speaking at ‘All together: an evening with the AOP,’ AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, expressed his gratitude to the profession: “Throughout the pandemic, most practices in my local area, along with thousands across the UK, remained resolutely open, staffed by optical practitioners willing to risk their health in the service of their fellow humans.”

The celebratory event saw the Chairman of the AOP’s Board presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to optometrist and former AOP chairman, Trevor Warburton.

Reflecting on the show, Garnett said: “What was striking was the togetherness of the sector.”

The event has seen record levels of rebooking, Garnett continued, with 100% Optical 2023 scheduled to take place between 25–27 February.

Face-to-face interaction

Johnson & Johnson Vision partnered with the AOP to deliver a suite of CPD education for show delegates.

Commenting on the return of the optical show following the pandemic, Dr Rachel Hiscox, professional education and development manager, UK & Ireland, said: “We’re really pleased to be back at 100% Optical. I think it has been fantastic that we’ve been able to continue connecting over Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but you just can’t replace that face-to-face interaction, so it’s been really good to connect with such a large number of eye care professionals.”

The company was showcasing its portfolio of products, including the Acuvue Oasys Multifocal, along with on-eye demonstrations and a VR experience to highlight the importance of fitting contact lenses correctly.

Describing the key takeaway she hopes delegates have taken away from Johnson & Johnson Vision’s activity as the show, Hiscox said: “We really want practitioners to go away excited about the opportunities contact lenses can provide for their patients and show them that we are continuing to innovate.”

Ahead of the show, Hakim Group were announced as platinum sponsors for the event. Explaining the decision behind this, Luke Wren, head of business development for Hakim Group, told OT: “We live and breathe the industry. It is right to invest in the show.”

Wren added: “It is amazing to be back at 100% Optical, to see friends and smiling faces, and be back as part of the amazing optical industry.”

Jason Kirk, managing director for Kirk & Kirk, brought the bright and bold Centiles collection to the show this year.

Speaking to OT, Kirk said: “100% Optical is an opportunity to get back into our community.”

Describing the show as “very important for independent practices,” Kirk highlighted the business opportunities presented through the event, as well as the opportunity to see friends from the industry “and learn from them.”

A sign of what is to come

Sustainability was a key focus for Eyespace at the show, with the company highlighting new frames that feature materials made from marine plastics.

Export director for Eyespace, Ryan James, said: “It is a privilege to be back here and with our amazing customers.”

“We’ve been with them on this journey,” James said of the past few years, “so I think it has been a real privilege for us all to get back together.”

Describing a “great energy” to the show, James shared: “I think it is a real sign of the future: COVID-19 really allowed businesses such as Eyespace to look at what we do and how we can improve things, and look at what the industry is missing. It’s been a really exciting time.”

Connecting with customers

Robert Morris, the founder of William Morris London, which exhibits regularly at 100% Optical, also commented on the show: “We love being here.”

The eyewear brand brought its latest collections to showcase on its stand, set against a backdrop of a red double-decker bus.

Morris said: “We do all of the international shows and I think we love this one in particular because it’s our home base. We’ve got a fantastic following of independent opticians here in the UK.”

Bausch + Lomb put its recently launched contact lens front and centre of its stand at the show, inviting attendees to find out more about the Bausch + Lomb Ultra One Day.

Echoing an opinion expressed by many at the show, Richard Smith, head of professional services at Bausch + Lomb, said: “There is nothing better than being able to see people interacting, catching up with old friends and having great conversations.”

100% Optical 2023 will take place from 25–27 February. For more from the 2022 show, keep an eye on the OT website for news, interviews and education coverage.