It Was Thirty Years Ago Today

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It was 30 years ago this week that I first walked into the offices of Vision Monday, which was then a scrappy start-up whose mission was to cover optical industry business news. I’ve never left.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I do get out for weekends, holidays and vacations. But except for these brief forays, I have been holding down the lens and tech desk at VM and our affiliate, 20/20 magazine, for three decades. In this day and age, when job hopping is the norm, I am an anomaly. I’ve stayed put while everything around me has changed.

What makes a person stay with the same job for so long? In my case, it’s because my job has changed as the industry has changed, and that’s kept it interesting. The technological advances I’ve covered, such as the digital lens and dispensing revolution, have transformed our industry and the lives of the consumers it serves.

Most recent advances, such as the development of retinal implants and electronic contact lenses, could be just as powerful. Observing and writing about these technologies and getting to know the companies and people behind them has been endlessly fascinating.

So what have I learned in my 30 years covering the vision business? First, if you’re at a party, never tell anyone you’re an optical journalist. Right away, they’ll start asking you why they had to pay a fortune for their glasses. It’s best to say you’re in computers or plumbing supply sales and then change the subject.

Beyond that, I’ve learned that the optical business is filled with smart, creative, decent people, many of whom are proud to be in a business that can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Of course, I’m not the only one who has stuck around for this long. For many of us, it’s because we are intrigued with optical’s singular mix of fashion, medicine and technology, and want to see what’s coming next. Don’t you?