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Vision Expo East in a New York Minute

Hannah and two friends with cardboard cutout for vision expo

The much-anticipated Vision Expo was this past weekend and it was the perfect opportunity to leave Boston to explore another city! We left for NYC after class on Friday, and the next morning, we found ourselves standing in the middle of Grand Central station, trying to navigate our way through the subway system. When we arrived at Javits Center, we were immediately impressed by how massive, yet organized the Expo was. After checking in, we were given name tags and maps to help us navigate the vendor booths.

Although the Expo was geared towards practicing optometrists interested in placing orders on frames and technology for their practices, it was a really great opportunity for optometry students as well. We met representatives from big companies, like Ray Ban and Oakley, to smaller companies that we had never heard of before. We weaved through hundreds of booths, picking up free goodies, like mugs, lens cloths, reusable bags, and t-shirts, and even getting some champagne along the way!

One of the most memorable booths I stopped by was Kenmark Eyewear. They had a diverse selection of trendy eyeglasses and sunglasses, which we were able to try on in a photo booth!

Amidst the newness of the Expo experience, it was so nice to run into fellow NECO students throughout the day. We swapped tips on which vendors to check out next and shared the cool things we had seen. One of our friends stopped by the Tear Science booth to have her blinking rate checked and she even saw a picture of her meibomian glands!

In addition to the vendor booths, the Expo held a Student Education Program, where four speakers gave talks about being a “modern optometrist”. One of the speakers was Dr. Jacyln Garlich, a NECO Class of 2010 graduate. She spoke about her weekly optometry-related news subscription service called 20/20 Glance. I had already subscribed to her emails and had found them especially informative for learning about legislative changes in the profession and new findings in vision research. She emphasized the importance of being kept up to date on the latest news in optometry to provide a higher quality of care to patients. 

After spending a couple hours at the Expo, we headed to the Flatiron District to eat sushirritos and pizzas, and did some window-shopping. Even though I had been to the city before, I had forgotten about how different NYC and Boston were! NYC’s skyscraper buildings and bustling streets are what make the city unique, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the more historic and relaxed streets of Boston.  Before we knew it, it was time to attend the student party at Sky Room lounge. This event was yet another opportunity for us to network with students from other schools.

Attending Vision Expo gave me a great introduction to the entrepreneurship and networking aspects of the optometry profession. Although I am now back in Boston, this weekend in NYC was yet another reminder of how much more there is to the profession of optometry than performing refractions and prescribing glasses.

Hannah is a second year student who is originally from Rochester, NY. She is a 2016 graduate of Boston College, where she studied Behavioral Neuroscience and minored in Medical Humanities. Some of her most formative experiences at BC include volunteering weekly at a children’s hospital, traveling to Nicaragua on a service and cultural immersion trip, and studying the neurobiology of eating and eating disorders through an undergraduate research fellowship. Hannah's decision to pursue optometry wasn’t completely made until the summer before her senior year at BC. Despite this relatively late start, she believes that her Jesuit education at BC has cultivated a deep sense of social responsibility to serve communities as an optometrist, perhaps by participating in vision science research adapted towards treatments for rare ocular conditions or by providing basic eye exams to underprivileged communities in the US and Latin America. She is thrilled to be spending another 4 years in the historically rich city of Boston, but this time, as a graduate student and living in the heart of Boston with 2 other roommates! She cannot wait to see where the next four years at NECO will lead her, as well as her classmates in the class of 2020!