Welcome to the new decade – it starts in 2021! Lets put the last one behind us firmly and look to a bright future. Before we do that it is time to congratulate the industry for the way the crisis was handled and where better to celebrate than at our own industry event O=MEGA21 to be held in Melbourne from 2-4 September. Time to start planning now!
In December last year, I reached a milestone I could never have predicted – 25 years at the helm of ODMA. I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the key events of my tenure. In 1995 I commenced work for both ODMA and The Better Vision Institute. The BVI had membership from both industry and practitioners both paying a levy on sales to help fund campaigns to promote eye care and the benefits of eyewear.
The BVI was subsequently reinvented as the Eyecare Information Service. This was the frst attempt anywhere in optics to bring cross representation to collaborate on projects for the good of the industry. Some of the key opinion leaders who served on that board were (Professor) Gerard Sutton (Ophthalmologist), (Professor) Brian Layland (Optometrist), Tony Lord (Optometrist), the late Lindsay McGregor (Optical Dispenser), the late David Dixon (Wholesaler), Alan Smith (OPSM), Diane Quaife (Wholesaler) and the late David Wilson (TAFE teacher and dispenser). The culmination of the EIS plans was the introduction of an annual national Eye Care Week which launched in August 1997 with much-combined media activity. We created a one-minute sight saver test which essentially directed all customers to get an eye test with their optometrist.
The late Brien Holden approached ODMA about the founding of Vision2020 whose aim was to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. From then on ODMA put its support behind this uniting organisation and ODMA is still a member.
In 2012 we proposed a bold new vision for ODMAFAIR and beyond with the significant decision to move the event to Brisbane. The ODMA fairs were national events reaching a national audience. Moving from Sydney signalled a dramatic change, recognising national coverage for the fair. As well as that 2013 represented the last year before the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre was to be demolished, and not available again until 2016.
In August, ODMA purchased Eye Talk Consultants. Eye Talk was established by Margaret McCann and Tony Hanks in 1980 to provide “a reliable source of comprehensive product information” to eye care practitioners. The sale of Eye Talk to ODMA included the Reference Guide, the Digital Download, and the
Progressive Lens Guide. ODMA has since gone on to develop two very successful supplements, an Annual Equipment Magazine and a consumer-facing LOOKBOOK.
ODMA and Optometry Victoria announced the most significant change to the optometric conferences and events landscape in Australia. The two market leaders in optics education and events joined forces to launch O=MEGA19. Replacing SRC and ODMA19, O=MEGA combined the most credentialed and largest annual optometry conference in the Southern Hemisphere with the largest eye care and eyewear show in Australia with huge success.
During my tenure, I have worked with 10 different Chairpersons and managed to stay friends with them all. I have made many friends in optical practices, as well as wholesalers and I, look forward to seeing you all again at O=MEGA21,