Transcript: Dr. Ben Gaddie discusses VEE education highlights

Benjamin Gaddie, OD, FAAO, cochair of Vision Expo Meetings, outlines what attendees can anticipate about Vision Expo East 2021 in Orlando.

Gretchyn Bailey: Hi, everyone, I'm Gretchyn Bailey with Optometry Times®. Today I am joined by Dr. Ben Gaddie from Louisville, Kentucky, and he is cochair of the Vision Expo meetings. Ben, thanks so much for talking with me today.

Ben Gaddie, OD, FAAO: Thanks, Gretchyn. I am really excited to talk about our upcoming meeting. Just being able to get back into the community of our colleagues, our industry, and especially our patients, it has been a renaissance. I am really excited that we are gonna have this. I want to share my screen and put it up.

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Bailey: You have a bunch of sessions and a bunch of hours that you are offering, and this will be held now in Orlando in early June, as opposed to New York City in March. So, are you offering the same amount of sessions and hours as you have in the past?

Gaddie: That’s a good question. Gretchyn. The move to Orlando was a really insightful move by The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions due to the slower recovery in New York City. I think Orlando has already had some meetings and been able to prove that it’s a good spot. So, we are excited about the move. We are not sure if that is going to be permanent or not. I always get that question. That’s way beyond my pay scale. But nonetheless, we are excited to be down there.

We did shrink the program anticipating, as would be expected, a somewhat smaller crowd. I do know we have well over 5000 people registered for the meeting. Some of those, of course, are staff from our office, technicians, and opticians. We are also hosting the Opticon meeting within our meeting as well. So, we will have pretty diverse players from the industry involved. But we did shrink the programs. I would say it's about 60% of the size of our typical Vision Expo program.

Bailey: That makes sense. You wanted to tell me about some of the things that attendees can look forward to. So, let’s jump to it.

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Gaddie: First, I want to highlight some of the people involved in bringing this program together. They are all stalwarts in the in the profession. Dr. Mark Dunbar from Bascom Palmer is my cochairman, and we work hand in hand trying to put together this this massive program. Doug Devries from Nevada has been involved for a long time in our committee. We brought Mick Kling on board to do the business part of our program, which is very important. He is a very successful practitioner in in San Diego. Tom Quinn, one of your good friends, is an icon on the contact lens side.

Then we have our founding fathers, if you will, of Jack Schaeffer and Kirk Smick. Both are very good friends. I followed Kirk from the American Optometric Association (AOA) committee and took over his chair when he left and went to Vision Expo. When he decided that he was going to move out of clinical practice semi retire, he asked that I take over as a cochair. Then of course, we have an ophthalmologist. Vince Young does a great job trying to integrate the optometry and ophthalmology programs.

Our program starts on Wednesday, June 2. So, it is a Wednesday to Saturday program this year.

To start it off, we have our Global Contact Lens Forum. This has grown into one of the industry’s larger standalone meetings within a larger meeting. This year, we are going to have a great program. We are doing a roadmap series throughout our Vision Expo East program this year, and it’s a roadmap for practitioners to go from nuts to bolts from getting started to advanced cases. We wanted to give everyone somewhere along that continuum to jump in. And so we’re going to start with going into contact lens practices with Tom Quinn. We are going to be looking at billing and coding getting into some of the schools’ programs and looking at myopia control as well. When I look at innovation and new foundations out there, contact lenses really leads the way, in my opinion. That is a great program, and that that program is free.

On Wednesday afternoon, we start with a competition—some of the profession’s well-known speakers have a showdown. It is like a massive Jeopardy! program. There will be a winner at the end, Mark Dunbar moderates, and it will be fun with collegial jabbing going back and forth.

Briefly, the rest of the educational program starts in earnest on Wednesday afternoon. We have glaucoma tracks, again with this roadmap concept; anterior segment covering everything from dry eye to meibomian gland dysfunction, laser surgical procedures, intense pulsed light (IPL), all the way to Demodex.

We have had the “greatest anterior segment course ever” and the “greatest contact lens course ever,” which traditionally have been our greatest courses ever, to be honest with you. They typically take place in our IMAX theaters, drawing 300 to 400 people.

Bailey: That was not a misnomer, then. It actually is the greatest.

Gaddie: The greatest. Just don’t tell Jack Schaeffer that.

Bailey: I will not.

Gaddie: It will go to his head.

Anyhow, we try to cover every topical area that practicing optometrists would need from low vision to binocular vision, pediatrics, oral and topical pharmacology, and myopia management. We tried to put together concentrated tracks where the programming is contiguous—it lends to furthering the development of whatever area you would like to pursue. So with that, I am not going to go into specific courses, unless you have some questions that I could I could answer.

Bailey: The only question that I have is, Will this be the same program that will take place in Las Vegas in September for Vision Expo West?

Gaddie: That is a good question. COVID interrupted our cycle a bit. But typically, we developed the program once and delivered it twice. Obviously, whatever comes out of the East meeting will have some learnings. We may have some refinements, we may want to add some content, we may have take out some content. But in general, we tried to redeliver that in Vegas because our crossover rate of attendance is about 3%. Some of those are probably the speakers and the industry people that have to go to every meeting. But we have found that to be pretty effective.

I wanted to highlight our vision series over lunch. Our vision series have become very popular. When you sign up for one of those, it includes lunch. It is one hour and sponsored, typically by industry’s leading companies and given by some of the biggest names so you get to hear innovations of new products for our major bellwether companies. It's great to get a get a lunch, especially in place like Orlando, Vegas, or New York when it is not easy to jump out and grab something to eat in that 45-minute break.

Bailey: Well, this all sounds fabulous. Ben, I look forward to catching some of these classes, and I look forward to seeing you in Orlando.

Gaddie: Thank you so much. I look forward to giving you a big hug. Safe travels.