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The Contact Lens Lab of SA International

From left to right: Lorren Phillips, Maria Chiye, Bonita Lutzka, Michael Bernard, Jamie Walton,Tshepo Setlai, Leslie Lazarus, Elspeth Liddell

From humble beginnings: How it started

One day two guys were having a game of pool and a few beers and had this crazy idea to invest in a lathe that could produce contact lenses. The main reason was to produce “out of range” contact lenses locally, that were being ordered from overseas.

At the time these guys didn’t have a two Rand coin to throw at each other, so affording this lathe was a distant dream with little chance of this dream coming true. After a year or so a remarkable person that believed in the dream decided to fund the project and we are pleased to say that we didn’t let her down.

It was a slow start as we began with no clients and marketing this new company became a full-time job. Day in and day out was spent sending emails and on the telephone to optometrists trying to sell ourselves and get them to believe in us. This was not an easy task at all and there were times when we would find ourselves questioning if we had made the right decision!

Slowly, more and more optometrists decided to take the leap of faith and allow us to make them a pair of trial lenses at no charge! To all these optometrists who have stood by us and the many more that are supporting us presently, we would like to say a huge thank you, for allowing us to make your lenses.

The team we have at the Lab is one in a million. We are blessed to have all of them on board. Some have been with us since the inception of the company and we thank them for their patience and commitment over the years. Some are more recent, but all involved continue to make this happen and we are forever grateful!

The Contact Lens Lab of SA is ten years old this year and going from strength to strength. Again, a huge thank you to everyone at the lab and to all the optometrists who continue to support us.


 

Jamie Walton
Co-owner
Jamie was born in Leeds, England. He first trained as a carpenter and started his own business at the age of eighteen. After a holiday in South Africa in 2000, he got hooked on the sunshine and on his return to England, sold up within two weeks, to re-locate to South Africa. Jamie continued his career in carpentry and later in project management until he crossed paths with Mike Bernard. Together they decided to start up The Contact Lens Laboratory of SA in 2008. Today he can reflect with pride on the success it turned out to be, not withstanding the leap of faith he had to take and the radical career change he had to make.
Mike Bernard
Co-owner
Mike comes from a family steeped in the history of contact lens manufacture. His father, Jack Bernard, was one of the trailblasers in the contact lens industry in South Africa. After completing a three year course in medical technology, he joined his father in the contact lens business where he became skilled in all the facets of contact lens manufacture as well as the art of artificial eye manufacture. Mike decided to specialise in artificial eyes, until 2008, when he was asked by optometrists to re-enter the contact lens manufacturing business. This he did by joining forces with his friend Jamie Walton. Today, The Contact Lens Laboratory of SA is recognised as a technologically advanced contact lens design and manufacture facility.
Elspeth Liddell
Manager
Elspeth was born in Zimbabwe and moved to South Africa in the early years of her life. She completed her studies at business school in 2007, but has continued studying throughout her career, to complete several courses in accounting and management. She began her career with the Contact lens Lab of SA in 2008 as a receptionist. Over the past 10 years she has grown and developed along with the business. Whilst she oversees financial management, administration and marketing, she has in addition acquired a complete grasp of all the functions of the laboratory. She also fulfils the role as manager in the laboratory. In her spare time she enjoys riding motorbikes (both on and off road) and spending time outdoors.
Bonita Lutzka
Manager
Bonita began her career in 2006 as an apprentice Ocularist. She was taught the entire manufacturing process of prosthetic eyes and haptic shells by Jack and Mike Bernard. She found that she had the skill and patience to be able to replicate an iris pattern exactly on the prosthetics, by simply using paint and a brush. In 2008 she joined ‘The Contact Lens Laboratory of South Africa’, founded then by Mike Bernard and Jamie Walton. Here, she had free reign to apply her exceptional talent to replicate an iris on a hydrophilic contact lens. Replicating an iris requires experience, artistic skill, a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of light, as well as incredible patience. As a manager at The Contact Lens Laboratory SA, apart from her artistic skills, Bonita is also skilled in all aspects of contact lens design and manufacture.

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