Spotlight on ... India

MAOO

There are approximately 3000 opticians in India.

Mostly they are not qualified, having inherited the business as ‘handed down’ second or third generation entrepreneurs mostly from business communities.

Usually they work in a ‘stand-alone’ mode having their outlets in main market areas catering to the local population. Sometimes they double up as fitters and grinders. Mostly they outsource it to professional fitters and grinders on pro-rata basis. Some of the Opticians also run outlets in hospitals on a revenue sharing model with hospital management / individual Ophthalmologists. Some also employ Optometrists for a couple of hours in the evening to get their patients’ eye examinations done by them. A lot of quackery is also practised due to unqualified, semi-qualified Opticians performing refractions and prescribing lenses. The concept of Optical chains is catching up with the advent of Titan Eye plus stores owned by the TITAN group with 350 plus stores, Specs Makers, Lawrence & Mayo, GKB and other such chains.

There is no unified council for Opticians across the country. The Madras Optical Association is one of the oldest associations in Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu.

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There is no formal education for most Opticians in the country. It was in 2004 that Sankara Nethralaya in collaboration with the Silmo Essilor Trust started the distance learning course for Opticians, a 9 month course with self-assessment modules. In 2011 The Sankara Nethralaya Academy started the 3 year FBDO in collaboration with ABDO, UK. There is also a shorter version for fully qualified Optometrists. But students opting for such standardised courses are few in number.

The trends are changing in recent times with greater orientation towards technology and high quality due to increased consumer awareness.

Topic: Country spotlight