Affordability challenges should not prevent you from having 20/20 vision in 2023!

Affordability challenges should not prevent you from having 20/20 vision in 2023!
Thia van Vuuren

As much as we all love to go into every new year with great hopes for change, the chances are that on a global level very little will change in 2023 – at least not in the short term. With the Russia/Ukraine war still prevailing and the economy being stretched to its limits thanks to continued energy and other price hikes, the average household in South Africa will still be facing affordability challenges in many areas of their lives.

This won’t however stop us from setting ambitious business goals and hopefully some sensible personal goals that will include more time spent with family and taking care of health issues that we may have been putting off for some time. One of the most important health goals you can set for the new year is to get 20/20 vision – not in the business sense of having a vision for your company growth but to have eyes that see correctly and are not damaging to you because this is more important than most people think.

Amongst the most common eye problems are Blurred vision (called refractive errors), Age-related macular degeneration, Glaucoma, Cataracts and Diabetic retinopathy, all of which could have been either avoided or at least improved with treatment had the victims been tested and the disease or issue picked up at an early stage. One thing for certain is that many people who don’t have corrective eyewear or preventative eyecare may not be working to the best of their ability and therefore inadvertently affecting their potential to earn more.

Affordability issues

Unfortunately, apart from the reasonably wealthy, most South Africans will say ‘’Well that’s all very well, I’d love to have my eyes tested and get great glasses, but the cost is exorbitant,’’ and other than those with expensive medical aid with comprehensive cover for eyecare this is true.

Research within the optometry industry has shown that 75% of the population simply cannot afford eye care. Furthermore, the average price of an eye test in South Africa is R550, so if you earn R7500 per month (making you part of the top 10% wealthiest people) to get your eyes tested, you have to pay 7% of your salary just to find out the status of your eye health. From an affordability point of view, therefore it seems like a pretty hopeless situation – or is it?

Some disruptors beg to differ 
One optometrist group that has for some time been breaking the mould to break this cycle is Optique which has been coming up with innovative ideas to make both eyecare and eyewear more affordable. From the eyecare aspect, they have for some time been offering their now renowned R99 eye test which eliminates the affordability to get tested challenge. They have also done extensive research and partnered with two global brands, Essilor and Cooper Vision, as their primary supplier of lenses and contact lenses, which make it more within reach of the average South African.

Says Owner/Founder Leon Van Vuuren, “In optometry, there is a lot of confusion. It is almost impossible to walk into an optometrist and just ask what glasses cost. There are so many variables that optometrists want to know first like ‘’medical or private?’’ ‘’We first need to do an eye test and see what your prescription is,’’ ‘’Are you looking for coatings?’’ ‘’Which frame do you want to choose?’’ etc. and we believe this makes people stay away. It’s one thing in our industry that we wanted to change, and that’s why we don’t offer only big brand names but our own excellent generic brand with one price for any frame and lens combination.’’

It’s pretty clear then that thanks to game-changers like Optique, affordability challenges should not prevent you from having 20/20 vision in 2023!

Danie du Toit
Danie du Toit