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Information is the most valuable commodity, it has been said. The American Optometric Association, for the past twenty years, has been conducting bi-annual surveys which produce meaningful information about the industry. In South Africa, research and survey information about our industry is non-existent. Yet, there are important challenges facing us, which could only be adequately addressed from a basis of researched information.

The issue of rent optometrists pay in malls is one of them. It is common to find that it becomes increasingly difficult to generate turn over growth year on year, in a practice that has been in existence for about ten years. Whilst turn over growth tends to flatten out, rent and salaries, however, continue to escalate annually at a brutal rate. Given this scenario, one could easily calculate after how many years the practice will cease to be financially viable.

Another bone of contention is, whether we are generating too many optometrists. If there were fewer optometrist, there would be more feet through the door for everybody, right?

In my view, the question that begs an answer is; how many empty chair slots do optometrists have across the board in South Africa? If we knew the answer to this, it will give a good indication to what extend the optometric resource is under-utilised.

Vision has started the ball rolling by setting up two surveys which pose two questions: What is your rent per square meter and how many empty chair slots do you have annually? These could be the grass root steps to find out more about what is going on in optometry. We beg for your participation.

The Optometry Practice Cost Survey has been commissioned by Iso Leso, The Contact Lens Society and the SAOA. One simply cannot stress enough how important it is that optometrists make an effort to support this survey. In the Healthman Column, Casper Venter explains why this is so important.

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