Vision Expo Report, Las Vegas 2022

Wed 05th October 2022

– Bridging the US expertise gap
– Canada – a great nation with huge potential
– Thanks to all our new friends


IbisVision platform – a possible partnership to provide optometry expertise

For any business with any nous there are two main benefits to attending an exposition such as the amazing Las Vegas Vision Expo West, which we visited in September. There are some businesses that go with the sole aim of talking about their product, of selling, and focusing on their display. We like to think that we go one step further than that, and we give equal, if not more attention, to what else is going on and what others are doing, as well as making connections related to our own products. This results in a deeper understanding of our potential clients and the markets in which we operate.

As we have already stated, the US is a significant market for us, firstly because it so large, and secondly because it tends to be a leader in medical processes and technology. The positive take away for us from the Expo is that we feel we now have a much greater understanding of the needs of US optometrists, the broader eyecare sector and the patients that are served in this industry and profession. We are delighted that our technology attracted so much attention – we consider ourselves to be world leading in the way we open up remote eyecare over standard devices and Internet connections.

However, the US market does throw up some challenges in this area. It’s all very well allowing for a remote examination to take place, but our product is not specifically AI-led, but instead is a tool to support examinations by professionals. From our conversations, it seems to be the case that getting the professional staff in the US to be able to oversee eye examinations can be a challenge.

The evidence would seem to back this up – according to the 2021 Optometry Healthcare Business Insights report 60% of US optometry offices do not have enough staff to meet their needs. At first glance much of this might be to do with regulation – only four out of 50 states (Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma) allow optometrists to perform the full range of procedures outlined in their education. Then there is the issue of supply within the profession, and in a vast country such as the US, it surprising that only 23 American educational institutions offer Doctor of Optometry degrees (it has occurred to us that our remote technology could be useful in an educational environment).

What does this mean for a company like ours? In the UK where there has not been significant talk about the shortage of optometry professionals, and the regulatory environment is different, our remote technology seamlessly opens up possibilities for optometry practices to reach a wider spectrum of society with greater ease. In the US there is another key part of the jigsaw where we want to contribute: that being, helping optometry practices access the professionals that can oversee the tests that our technology allows for. Some of the suggestions that came our way centred around how we might work with the industry to provide panels of medical professionals qualified and able to work from our platforms. From our perspective, and as a company that has consistently worked in partnership from the outset, we find this an interesting suggestion. We hope that the many companies and individuals that we met in our time in Las Vegas can ponder now how we might move forward on this, as this is obviously a key area for partnership and cooperation. We look forward to ongoing discussions in this area.


Canada opportunities

We were delighted to meet with many representatives from the Canadian industry – this great nation sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves being so closely situated beside the world’s largest economy (we get it, as a Scottish-based company next to England which has 10 times the population!). But we are absolutely emphatic that Canada, as a G-7 nation with a highly developed and well-funded medical sector, is a key target for a company like ourselves.

An obvious starting point for us as a provider of remote eyecare technology is how this can help in a country that’s the second largest by landmass in the world. Our business is about much more than just reaching people who are out of the way (we have a multifaceted approach to driving efficiencies in the eye-care sector) but a key statistic that whets our appetite is that population density in Canada is about four people per square kilometre compared with 281 in the United Kingdom! We believe our remote technology can bring huge efficiencies to bustling and busy cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, where crossing a metropolis can take several hours out of a day for a patient. With about 5,500 optometrists and a sector worth US$1.8 billion, we are again looking to develop partnerships to help us expand in this very important market.


A big thank you

Obviously people and companies make an event such as Vision Expo. We were very lucky to be situated in the Panorama, where the latest innovations in eyecare were displayed. We were delighted to be situated next to Dusk, the developers of an app that enables electro-chromatic smart sunglasses and CREAL, which uses light field technology to aid with refraction measurements.

We were particularly delighted to have had conversations with major companies including Warby Parker, Alcon, New Look Division Group and Specsavers. In total, we reckon our conversations could give us access to more than 2,000 locations across the US – about 5% of total US primary vision practices we reckon. All in all, a good week, and we came back with our wallets relatively intact even in the face of such alluring gambling attractions.