EyeCare Professional’s Paul DiGiovanni, LDO, speaking with
Chief Executive Offer,
The Vision Council.
Please provide a brief history of The Vision Council?
Our organization was formed in the 1940s to promote a business environment that would stimulate growth and influence the eye care industry. At the time, we were known as the Optical Industry Association
(OMA), and our membership was comprised of manufacturers of ophthalmic frames, lenses, cases and optical machinery.
Over the years, we’ve evolved and expanded our services to help grow the optical industry. In the 1980s we established the Vision Industry Council of America
(VICA), launched International Vision Expo & Conference and took over the Better Vision Institute
(BVI). In 1999, to help meet the challenges of the 21st century, OMA and VICA merged to form the Vision Council of America
(VCA). Over the next ten years, our organization continued to expand its umbrella of resources, joining forces with the Low Vision Council, the Polycarbonate Lens Council, the Anti-Reflective Council and the Sunglass Association of America. In 2008, the VCA board of directors and membership determined that the Vision Council of America should undergo a rebranding process as part of its strategic plan. That same year, we unveiled our new brand – The Vision Council – to the vision industry.
At our annual Executive Summit this past January, we announced our joint affiliation with the Optical Laboratories Association
(OLA). The OLA is now the new Optical Lab Division of The Vision Council and represents one of six operating divisions within our organization that provide guidance, education programs, marketing materials, research and advocacy outreach to address common interests among our members.
Although our name and affiliation has changed over the years, our commitment to the optical industry remains the same.
What is the Council's mission?
To position members to be successful in a competitive marketplace through education, advocacy, networking, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums.
Please detail the programs and services offered to ECP's.
As a non-profit organization, we are dedicated to improving the optical industry and helping ECPs to educate their communities and grow their practice. Our team works alongside industry experts, to develop a variety of tools for eye care professionals, including online continuing education, market research and marketing materials.
In 2009, we launched a continuing education portal, thevisioncouncil.org/ecp/CE. The online initiative provides ECPs with convenient access to accredited courses on a variety of optical topics.
Each quarter, our industry research team prepares a market research report called the Consumer Barometer, which provides top-line information on a number of key areas, such as eyewear usage patterns, sales performance by distribution channel, eye exam data, and forecasting data.
Our marketing & communications department has developed items like recall cards, magazines, and brochures to help ECPs educate their patients about the importance of healthy vision. We just created a new UV-awareness children’s activity booklet, public service announcement poster and waiting room magazine, Under the Sun. Majority of our educational materials are available at no cost to ECPs.
All of these resources, including our online store, are available at
What do, or can ECPs do, to assist The Vision Council achieve its goals?
Eye care professionals are encouraged to attend International Vision Expo East in New York and International Vision Expo West in Las Vegas, take advantage of continuing education sponsored by The Vision Council and members of The Vision Council, and distribute free educational and marketing materials to their community.
What are the requirements for joining The Vision Council? Is the organization open to individual ECPs?
Membership is available to any person, firm or corporation conducting business in North America whose primary business is the manufacturing or distribution of optical products and/or services. While membership is not open to individual eye care professionals, we do have a medical advisory arm, the Better Vision Institute, which brings together representatives from ophthalmology, optometry and opticianry. These representatives serve as an advisory board to the supply side of the optical industry, while helping to raise awareness about vision related issues and providing input for programs, materials, and continuing education.
ECPs who are interested in joining the BVI can always submit their CV to me or our VP of Marketing & Communication, Maureen Beddis, for consideration when a spot becomes available.
Does The Vision Council help individual patients in any way or provide any type of funding to patients in need i.e. low vision patients?
The Vision Council does not have any funding programs in place to assist individual patients. We do, however, offer product-generic consumer supplements and brochures about many topics, including UV protection, protective eyewear and low vision. In addition, our organization partners with agencies that offer assistance programs. Most often we are able to help direct consumers to the right resource.
What are the future plans of The Vision Council?
Right now, The Vision Council is focused on developing new projects on behalf of optical laboratories with the recent merger of the Optical Laboratories Association (OLA), generating awareness for UV Protection and other eyewear products among the public, as well as advocating for increased involvement in optical-related efforts on Capitol Hill and regulatory affairs.
In addition, we expect to increase our work with U.S. and international agencies, using more of our member and staff experts to produce and/or contribute to the multiple standards and communications that are created to assist the industry in serving the eyeglass wearing public. We travel the nation and globe, ensuring our members’ interests are managed at many different levels and with various technical groups.
Regarding the 3 O's, do you work with any local or State agencies or organizations?
We are an active supporter of the Opticians Association of America (OAA), National Federation of Opticianry Schools (NFOS) and proud partner of the American Optometric Association (AOA).
Please explain in detail one or two of the outreach programs?
Throughout the year, we work with a number of our divisions on initiatives to promote vision care and vision care products to consumers.
A year ago, we launched a UV Protection campaign on behalf of our Sunglass and Reader Division to increase eye protection purchases by promoting the importance of UV protection to consumers. Later this month, we will unveil a refreshed version of the existing campaign, which includes a website, smartphone app and an official UV report. The new “Bureau of Missing Sunglasses” concept uses humor to present the same eye health information, but lends itself better to social media and broadcast outreach, as well as special events. To learn more about the campaign, visit
The Vision Council also promotes eyewear as a fashion accessory and educates consumers about the importance of eyewear function and fit through our Eyecessorize campaign. The campaign covers optical frames, sunwear and reading glasses. Majority of the campaign’s interaction is done online through social media channels like Facebook (facebook.com/eyecessorize), Twitter (twitter.com/eyecessorize) and a blog (eyecessorizeblog.com). The content is beneficial for eye care professionals in that it can be used to educate consumers about current trends, the latest products and other relevant eyewear news. For more information about Eyecessorize, visit
The Vision Council co-owns of International Vision Expo & Conference. Please explain more about this venture and the concept behind Vision Expo.
The Vision Council, in partnership with Reed Exhibitions, sponsors and produces two of the most exciting and important optical events in the Americas - International Vision Expo East and International Vision Expo West. These are trade-only events that bring together more than 30,000 eye care professionals from the East and West coasts each year. By far, it’s the best place to learn about the latest trends in eyewear, advances in eyecare technology and business practices.
International Vision Expo East just wrapped up in New York City with record-breaking attendance and International Vision Expo West is quickly approaching. Education and exhibits will be held the first week in September (September 5-8) at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas. Go to
visionexpowest.com for more details.
Proceeds from the shows are used by The Vision Council to educate consumers about the importance of comprehensive vision care and the quality options in eyewear and other related products.