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What’s Really Up with Vision Expo in 2021?

Ashley Mills of the Vision Council gives In Vision with Dee Carroll the scoop in our last podcast of 2020.




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IN THIS EPISODE of INVISION with Dee Carroll our guest is Ashley Mills, CEO of the Vision Council. Ashley and Dee discuss the changes to The Vision Council in 2020, what The Vision Council is anticipating as trends in the delivery of vision care going forward, and how it will be working with independent eyecare business owners — as well as ECPs as a whole — in the new year. Most important, we discuss the current status of Vision Expo East 2021, Vision Expo West plans and contingencies … just in case.

To set the tone, Dee and Ashley discuss the big changes the Vision Council underwent in 2020 — new branding, a refined focus on industry growth, and their strategic plan for community and leadership building (1:45). “The new direction resulted in a plan to focus our efforts more on industry information, support and leadership and way to better serve our members and the optical community,” says Mills. We, of course, address how implementing those changes was affected by COVID. (5:00) “COVID really just focused us on it more. We doubled down on member support and member service.”


We get to Vision Expo 2021 around 10 minutes in and how the shows will change. “It will come down to two things: Can we do this safely? And equally important, is how important this is to our industry, it’s a huge sales event, and that has been missing for a long time and we want to deliver that. We are excited to do this but we want to do this right. We’ve been watching ECPs and how they created their protocols and reopened and we’ll be following the same protocols. The show will look different in that respect but we think people will be perfectly willing to accept that.” We also talk about the ripple effects of the move of VEE 2021 to May and the consequences that could have on VEW and future show.

At 17:30, we talk contingencies in the event large scale events are not okayed in 2021. “I just want to reiterate, right now the plan is to see you all in New York in May and also again in September, but sure, we absolutely are working on other ways to serve this need in the marketplace.”

We address how the Vision Council is including retail in their organization and how they will increasingly continue to do so going forward (18:00) and the resources available to them (20:00).

We discuss the organizations government and regulatory advocacy and how the changes in the political landscape may affect those initiatives when it comes to the delivery of eyecare, including tariffs and vision as an essential service (25:00). “Vision has got to be at the table. We have got to insert vision into the conversation a that is where the Vision Council is really hoping to lead. This is our chance to actually form a platform for vision and to really start hammering it home that vision is a critical healthcare service and impacts all of the other issues people care about.”

The two go on to discuss the Council’s robust research division and the trends it anticipates to be big in 2021 and beyond (33:25). Hint: online sales and telemedicine does come up, as does Think About Your Eyes and the Vision Council’s plan to adjust their consumer messaging through that platform to address vision as an essential part of healthcare.

At 45:00 minutes, Ashley leaves us with words of optimism. “The information is out there and it is in all of our best interests for your practice to thrive.”

If you’d like to ask Ashley a question directly, she shares her email for listeners, but to learn more about the Vision Council visit


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