100% Optical

A “record breaking” show

OT  heard from show director, Nathan Garnett, and exhibitors at the close of 100% Optical 2023

100% Optical

“This has been our best show yet,” Nathan Garnett, show director for 100% Optical told OT at the close of the optical trade show.

From 25–27 February, eyewear brands, equipment manufacturers, contact lens companies, and community ophthalmology service providers took to ExCeL London.

More than 10,000 people attended the three-day event, representing a 10% year-on-year increase on the previous record.

Reflecting on the footfall and visitor response to the 2023 show, Garnett said: “I think this has been the first event post pandemic, where we’ve really seen people coming together to plan ahead and deal with some of the challenges out there.”

Exhibitor activity

The show saw strong representation from companies in every sector, including the return of international independent eyewear brands after pandemic restrictions limited travel for many in 2022.

More pharmaceutical companies and ophthalmology service providers joined this year’s event, something 100% Optical show organisers plan to build on in 2024.

The number of contact lens companies at the show also grew, with CooperVision joining as a first–time exhibitor, launching its ‘Fresh Thinking’ campaign.

CooperVision stand at 100% Optical
CooperVision made its debut at the show

Observing conversations and exhibitor plans across the show floor revealed key themes around treating dry eye, the impact of new technologies and artificial intelligence, and the ever-increasing focus on sustainability.

In dry eye, Positive Impact launched the TearRestore Thermal Mask, described as the “first and only” open-eye warm compress.

Topcon showcased the Eye-Light device following the announcement of a long-term exclusive partnership with Espansione Group for the UK and Ireland markets.

BIB Ophthalmic Instruments showcased a variety of devices, including the Optopol Revo FC130, described as that fastest Optopol OCT, while Cerium Visual Technologies presented the Intuitive Colorimeter Wave, and Australian-based Cylite presented its multi-functional diagnostic device, the Cylite Hyperparallel OCT.

Bird Eyewear launched its new ophthalmic range, designed for UK optometry practices and developed from a mix of bioplastics and recycled materials in a low-carbon production process, and Coral Eyewear showcased its new cellulose acetate collection in exciting colours.

Meanwhile, across the exhibition hall, Johnson & Johnson Vision went paperless – turning marketing materials into digital resources and calculating the number of paper sheets saved for every download, visualised as a ‘living tree.’

The catwalk saw a number of new features, with The Eyewear Stylist, Dan Scott, offering pointers on styling and choosing frames and lenses.

Panel discussions on the catwalk covered sustainability in eyewear, myopia management and consumer trends.

Garnett said: “We’ve been working with Euromonitor who delivered a session on trends and we hosted a discussion afterwards about how opticians on the High Street can talk to the different groups out there, whether Millennials, Gen Z and so on.”

The event also received a visit from chef, restaurateur and TV presenter, Dame Prue Leith.

Leith, who launched Specs by Prue with MAC Eyewear in 2022, participated in a Q&A on the 100% Optical Catwalk and showcased her frames.

Speaking to OT about what it meant to attend the show, Leith shared: “I’ve been to hundreds of exhibitions here as a caterer. This is the first time I’ve seen it like this, and I must say it is wonderful. It’s so nice to be here.”

JJV digital tree
Johnson & Johnson Vision went paperless with its 100% Optical stand

Main stage highlights

As the official UK partner for 100% Optical, the AOP developed a programme of continuing professional development (CPD).

Garnett said: “We’re really pleased to be working with the AOP. That relationship just gets stronger and stronger.”

The programme included more than 140 sessions of CPD across a variety of topics and domains.

Elizabeth Lumb, director of global professional affairs for myopia management at CooperVision, presented a lecture on Driving change to put the brakes on myopia. She reflected on how far the profession has come in myopia management since she delivered a session on the topic at 100% Optical in 2017 and explained to OT: “I was able to frame the conversation around the experiences of my niece, Maddie who was eight when she became myopic.”

Derek Swan, chief technology officer of Optos, presented AI: the next chapter in comprehensive retinal analysis – reshaping eye healthcare, taking delegates through the key considerations around the future of technologies like AI in primary and secondary care.

A session titled Drawing on the skills of the entire eye care sector to reduce avoidable sight loss saw Specsavers’ clinical services director, Giles Edmonds, and director of professional advancement, Paul Morris, discuss key challenges affecting eye care in the UK, and the role of optometry as part of the solution.

They were joined by Anthony King, a consultant ophthalmologist at Nottingham University Hospital, and chair of Glaucoma UK, who described the pressure on ophthalmology services. Speaking to OT, King shared the importance of the whole eye care community having insight into the importance of early diagnosis, adding: “The way glaucoma is detected in this country is through opportunistic detection, and that’s primarily undertaken by optometrists, so what better place to raise this as an issue.”

Keith Valentine, chief executive officer of Fight for Sight, and Olivia Curno, chief executive officer of Vision Foundation, illustrated the impact that treatment of eye conditions can have in preserving the economic and social independence of patients, in a session titled The role of charitable grants inn advancing the treatment of eye conditions and reducing their social impact.

Reflecting on the show, AOP head of education, Dr Ian Beasley, said: “We’re thrilled with the results of this year’s event,” adding: “Heading into our landmark 10th year, that speaks volumes about how much practitioners appreciate the opportunity to come together, meet hundreds of exhibitors, and consume education from world class speakers.”

Verification of CPD attendance was sent to delegates by email on 8 March. Registrants who have not received this are reminded to check their spam folders, or contact [email protected] with any queries.

Prue at 100% Optical
Dame Prue Leith was in attendance at the optical trade event

Next year

The optical trade show will return to ExCeL London from 24–26 February 2024, which will also mark the 10th anniversary of 100% Optical.

Show organisers already have plans for the milestone event, including a dedicated ophthalmology section and education programme, working with key partners, suppliers and the NHS to deliver content for ophthalmologists.

Explaining the reasoning for this, Garnett pointed to the record-breaking numbers of delegates at the 2023 show, adding: “We want to keep growing this audience.”

He shared: “We’re very excited about some of the plans we’ve got for that already.”

Exhibitors reflect on 100% Optical 2023

Jakob Sveen, Johnson & Johnson Vision managing director, Northern Europe and general manager UK and Ireland thanked the organisers behind the show, sharing: “It’s impressive to say the least.”

“These shows are critical for this industry, not just bringing a lot of innovation from the suppliers, but it’s also about that partnership between suppliers and customers, with the patient in mind,” he continued, adding: “I think 100% Optical is probably the benchmark when it comes to that level of engagement.”

Tim Baker, group chief executive officer of BIB Ophthalmic Instruments, reflected that 2022 saw more of a tentative approach to shows, whereas: “This year has proven to be more relaxed, the footfall has been fantastic and more importantly, the interest in the technology has been noticeably different.”

Sharing his excitement for 2024, he added: “We will be back.”

Luke Wren, head of business development for Hakim Group, also noted: “It’s been a much more normal show this year,” remarking on the high numbers of attendees, and “great conversations” had at the event.

Doug Bairner, country manager, UK and Ireland for CooperVision, shared: “Being at 100% Optical is amazing for us, because it is everyday practitioners who are here, so it’s great to be able to talk with such a broad scope of people who have different priorities in their practice, to really understand what’s going on in their world.”

Jason Kirk, managing director of Kirk & Kirk, described the show as “really exciting” and well designed. He highlighted: “The thing that has been very interesting was to see international people coming and buying at the show.”

Coral Eyewear’s George Bailey described the importance of the show for the team: “Where we have regional reps in Scotland and Wales, and across the UK, it’s really nice for everyone to come together, meet in one hub, and feel the buzz of the industry and see those sustainable developments come together.”