The South African demand for eye care is unique, as 75% of the population simply cannot afford eye care. Furthermore, the average price of an eye test in South Africa is R550; if you earn R7500 per month, you are part of the top 10% wealthiest people. This means even then, to get your eyes tested, you have to pay 7% of your salary just to find out the status of your eye health. This inspired Leon, our founder, to provide a radical alternative solution to South Africans and make eye care accessible and simplified.

 


 

Optique started when an opportunity came across Leon’s path towards the end of 2017 to buy an existing practice in Sandton, the first Optique. He and his wife, Thia (his co-founder and financial director of Optique), personally financed it with their credit cards and personal loans. In the beginning, he flew in and out every week between Cape Town (as he resides in Paarl), and Johannesburg for months.  Sleeping in the practice (on a sleeper couch), eating takeaways from the restaurants next door, and showering in the boxing gym above the practice. Shortly after that, he partnered with Arnold Smit, a well-known optometrist in Paarl, where they bought the second Optique, where the business model was further refined and the rest is history.

 Optique means “Optical” in French, a collective noun describing what we do as Optometrists. We chose this as our name as we want to come back to the basics of our industry, to measure vision and correct it by means of lenses (as we feel our industry has lost its way with buy one get one deals and pushing sales). Our logo also aligns with this principle. It is a group of prisms/triangles representing the first thing you learn at school regarding optics. When white light moves through a prism, it breaks up into the 7 colors of the rainbow, where we get the inspiration of our colorful branding, representing the diversity of South Africa which we embrace.

 

We believe the days of shareholder capitalism are limited, and we aspire to be a redemptive, stakeholder capitalistic company. Younger generations (including Leon, a 33 year old millennial), want to be part of organisations with a strong vision and purpose. And we believe that balancing purpose and profit is a sustainable way to impact the world.

We simply sell our products and services the way we would like to buy/access them and treat people the way we would like to be treated.

 

Our industry has had little innovation regarding how patients interact with Optometry. However, we believe we have already taken a step in the right direction to change that. Take Uber as an example; it’s still a taxi service, but they have simplified the way you access and experience their industry, and by doing so, increased the market size 10 fold. We hope to do the same for our industry.

 

We turned 4 years old in October 2021 and did not set out to be more than just one or two practices, but the support from South Africans has been overwhelming. As long as there is a need for what we offer, we will continue to grow. We hope to inspire our industry by joining us to make eye care more affordable to a more significant portion of South Africa.

 

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