Jean Patrick Mouradian (JPM) ran an ESSILOR Marketing seminar in Beirut Lebanon and had the opportunity to meet all the motivated attendees. Esther Sarkis is one of them and in this article she tells us all about the Optical market in the Lebanon
JPM: Esther, could you tell us a few words about you, your experience, and your optical association?
I received my diploma in Optics and Optometry from the I.T.I.S Institute in the 2000. I have since been involved in the field as an Optometrist working at multiple optical shops. In 2011, I startedmy own business (E- View Optic) in Beirut.
I am currently serving as a board member of the “Association des LIcenciés en Optique Optométrie au Liban” an organisation of 223 certified optometrists. Our association has been established to act as a platform for current and future students. It promotes knowledge sharing and raising awareness on a national level around comprehensive eye health system development. It does so by organizing yearly seminars and activities for practitioners, students, as well advocates with the local legislators the passing of laws aiming at ensuring a better practice of the profession in Lebanon.
Our regular “Growing circles” encouraging continuous education.
JPM: Could you remind us how many inhabitants live in Lebanon?
The current population of Lebanon is estimated at 6,096,551, based on the latest United Nations report. 2 million Syrians and 450000 Palestinian refugees are currently taking refuge in Lebanon.
JPM: How many eye doctors, opticians, and optometrists does Lebanon have?
Despite the fact that Lebanon is a small country, its medical field is quite advanced. 450 well trained and experienced eye doctors as well as 400 certified opticians and optometrists are currently providing eye care services. A good number of Lebanese eye care practitioners have attained prominent positions in international companies, thanks to their unwavering passion and professionalism.
Optometrist Nelly Nader during a charity day
JPM: How many optical schools or optical University does Lebanon have?
Lebanon was the first country in the Middle East who introduced academic programs related to eye care field. We currently have 3 universities and 2 institutes offering degrees in optics and optometry. Instructors have a strong combination of good be academic qualifications and a long experience in the profession.
JPM: How many associations are there? Talk us about your association.
In addition to the “Association des Licenciés en Optique Optométrie au Liban- A.L.O.O.”, there exists a Syndicate for the profession and two other associations. A.L.O.O. includes active members that have organized more than 6 congresses and 20 continuous educational sessions in collaboration with international speakers, local ophthalmologists and industry leaders. A.L.O.O. holds many free eye test campaigns and has distributed more than 2,000 eyeglasses in schools, villages and orphanages.
Members of the A.L.O.O. on Eye Test day.
With the aim of spreading awareness and patient education, A.L.O.O. created lately a Facebook page named AdvEYESor that give weekly tips all about healthy vision.
JPM: Could you tell us about your market? What is the general turnover? How many stores? How your market is organized?
Unfortunately, the Lebanese market lacks organization, due to the absence of a law regulating the profession, enforcing mandatory practice compliance requirements on operating optical shops. Our association is advocating for legal adoption of new rules and regulations since the year 2000. Currently, we have over 1000 stores, including private shop owners, chains and groups operate in Lebanon, out of which only 200 are owned or operated by certified optometrists or opticians. This lack of organization makes providing true estimation of the general turn over quite difficult.
JPM: Could you tell us about the average sales figure per consumer?
The average sales figure differs between areas and owners’ strategies. Urban areas, having denser population, better education, stronger purchasing power and hence greater appreciation and demand for quality eyewear, witness considerably higher sales figures than rural areas.
One can find in the Lebanese market a wide variety of single vision and progressive lenses, spanning multiple brands and categories. We as certified optometrists and opticians provide our clients with high-tech lenses.
JPM: How do you see the future of the Lebanese market?
In Lebanon, national medical insurance companies do not cover eyeglasses cost, however some international insurance companies do. A few organizations and professional syndicates partially cover the eyeglasses cost for their members.
We remain hopeful of a continuous development of the optical market and practice, given that Lebanon is well known for its medical tourism industry. Passing Transparent and actionable laws will hopefully help organize and limit the wide spread mess (illegal shops, imitated brands) and help the market progress in the direction that the Lebanese optometrists and opticians strive to have.
Topic: Country spotlight