Our experienced VM editorial team got together a few months ago to talk about how to choose those products and technology innovations that most changed the industry and the way retailers and ECPs do business in the past 20 years. We had quite a wide ranging discussion and quickly realized that charting every new product trend, feature and breakthrough over that span of time was perhaps prohibitive.

But what we did settle on was the realization that regardless of the product category or area of retail or professional practice, it was computerized technology in every form that had sped innovation ahead and touched virtually every aspect of the optical business.

Marge Axelrad
Editorial Director

New software allows the creation and transfer of lens designs to digital surfacing equipment. CAD-CAMs speed along and create new concepts for frame and sunwear shapes and materials and construction. New databases have revolutionized record-keeping and decision-making and product ordering. Internet-based technologies, specifically, those which consolidate systems, save time and money, expedite delivery and manage lead times, have propelled the vision care world even farther.

The Internet has also affected one-to-one human relationships as well ñ building communities of like-minded people online as well as fueling virtual experiences and shaping brand and service perceptions in bold new ways.

I was struck by that when I attended the recent international optics show and exhibition, Mido, in Milan earlier this month, as the vast and modern new Rho-Pero center loomed large and the people looked small, strolling through vast halls and walkways to visit lens, frame, sunwear and technology pavilions. The global eyewear market is of course as diversified as possible, culturally, from country to country. But technology, and the media that speed style and design images throughout the world, is unifiying more aspects of the optical business all the time.

Economies change but ideas translate. Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East nations, India and China are emerging as buying powers. Europe and North America are coping with change and new competition.

Savvy independents are making headway; retail chains and groups are exercising their clout. But technology is enabling all of them to improve the speed of business, compete smarter and more swiftly and address change faster.

Technology is both an expansion of possibilities and a connection among communities. It created and enables a positive outlook for vision care and eyewear.