O=MEGA19 rises as Silmo Sydney falls

The regional optical fair battle reached a head at the end of last year with O=MEGA19 - replacing the biennial Optical Distributors & Manufacturers Association of Australia (ODMA) fair - issuing statements promoting its achievements and speaker list and Silmo Sydney, run by ODMA’s former event organiser, Expertise Events, cancelling its 2019 show.

In a letter to exhibitors, Expertise Events’ managing director Gary Fitz-Roy said he had cancelled the 2019 event after failing to reach some sort of compromise with ODMA on a range of options. “As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude was not reached easily. ODMA and some others may see this as a win but we certainly are not looking at it in terms of us winning or losing. We are doing what we think ODMA should be doing as an industry association should do and putting your interests first. We will run in 2020 instead.”

ODMA chair Rob Sparkes and CEO Finola Carey refused to comment on Fitz-Roy’s comments, Silmo Sydney or what this might mean for its ‘in-between’ biennial, boutique O-Show in 2020, and if this might be held in Sydney now O=MEGA19 is committed to Melbourne.

“O=MEGA19 will be a unifying event for every sector of optics from optometry, dispensing, ophthalmology, orthoptics and retail, occupying 10,000 sqm of exhibition space,” said Carey. “The gamut of exhibitors is wide with platinum sponsor Bausch & Lomb and diamond sponsor Alcon being joined by loyal exhibitors of many years. We welcome back Maui Jim to its biggest ever exhibition footprint and are pleased to have every category of product and service an eyecare practitioner could require represented.” 

O=MEGA19, a joint initiative between Optometry Victoria (newly merged with Optometry South Australia) and ODMA, replaces the previous ODMA fairs and Optometry Victoria’s popular, Southern Regional Conference (SRC).

Scheduled for 19-21 July at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, O=MEGA19 now combines the largest annual optometry conference in the southern hemisphere with the largest eye care and eyewear show in Australia. Keynote speakers at the conference include Professor Danica Marrelli, assistant dean of clinical education at the University of Houston College of Optometry, and Dr Jordan Keith, chair of the Minnesota Optometric Association Education Committee.

Optometry Victoria CEO Pete Haydon said, “The clinical conference at O=MEGA19 will be the strongest presented in Australia for many years. We’ve been very eager to get Dr Marrelli here for some time – her reputation is superb, and Dr Keith also comes highly recommended. We’ll now look to complement these two speakers with the amazing talent we have available locally to produce a programme worthy of this inaugural version of O=MEGA.”

By early this year, 90% of exhibitor stands had been sold, with all the industry’s most well-known names taking part, including OptiMed, Designs for Vision, Hoya, Zeiss, Essilor, J&J, and frame brands including Maui Jim, Eyes Right Optical, De Rigo and Optique Line.

Dispensing opticians will also be provided with an educational opportunity through a series of masterclasses run by their education providers, said Carey. “O=MEGA19 is owned by the Australian optical industry and we look forward to being the only major event on the calendar.”

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