This interview is with Satvinder Shoker the Principal Optometrist and Director of Kings Hill Opticians, an independent practice established in 2005 and based in Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent.
Satvinder has purchased a Colorimeter Curve from Cerium Visual Technologies and explains more about what this piece of equipment is used for and its benefits when assisting with the management of 'Visual Stress' which affects 20% of the population.
Please introduce yourself, the name of your practice and its location to us?
My name is Satvinder Shoker. I am Principal Optometrist and Director of Kings Hill Opticians that was established by myself in 2005. We are an independent practice, based in Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent
How would you best describe your practice ethos?
Whilst Studying our Optometry Degree in Universities we all learnt about the vast equipment, products, skills and techniques that are required to test and correct patients vision. While most Optometrist go to work in the High Street environment, they seem oblivious to the limited access they have to frames, lenses and contact lenses and the equipment they use is not always at the top of their game. We are given time slots to see patients and governed by sales and conversion rates. Naturally most of the skills we learnt are easily forgotten.
Maintaining Clinical Excellence underpins everything we do and we pride ourselves in using the most up to date equipment, longer sight tests, focusing on eye problems and offering professional eyewear products from all around the world. With the combination of all these elements, we have truly been able to care for our patients over the last 13 years in business.
What makes your practice unique from other independent opticians?
Experience is truly invaluable. There is no doubt that the wide range of patient cases Mr Shoker experienced whilst working at Maidstone Hospital lead to some fundamental standards he has set out at Kings Hill Opticians. A majority of these standards are still used in the practice today.
You have purchased a Colorimeter Curve from Cerium Visual Technologies. Tell us more about this piece of equipment and what it is used for.
Visual Stress is not taught very well in universities and it is not until you start seeing patients in the real world, you start to realise that prescribing specialist tinted lenses is essential in the management of patients.
Intuitive Colorimetry allows a quantitative measure of solutions to help with symptoms of visual stress more commonly referred to as Meares-Irlen syndrome. Approximately 10% - 12% of the population is severely affected by Visual Stress and 20% to a lesser degree.
movement of print
blurring of print
letters changing shape or size
letters fading or becoming darker
patterns appearing, sometimes described as “worms” or “rivers” running through print
illusions of colour – blobs of colour on the page or colours surrounding letters or words
headache or eyestrain
Visual Stress has been found to exist in many conditions, including:
There are several steps in the process....
1. Expert sight test: Our expert optometrists who have over 5 years experience or are hospital trained, begin with a full sight test, eye muscle and focussing assessment.
2. Initial analysis: We then provide a range of different colour overlays to explore whether coloured lenses might alleviate the patients symptoms.
3. Bespoke colours: Once happy with the overlay we proceed to use the colorimeter which provides over 10,000 colour combinations through different hues, saturations and brightness, to enable us to determine the shade that most accurately meets their individual needs.
4. Personalised solution: We apply the optimal colour to prescription tinted lenses or contact lenses.
What were the reasons you chose this product and how has the purchase impacted your business?
We already had the previous mark 2 model of the cerium colorimeter. It had been much loved and well used over the last 5 years in helping lots of people.
When we saw the design and digitalising of the new curve model we instantly fell in love with the new style. We pride ourselves on being a practice in the digital age, so it was clearly a must have. Also in an ever-competing optical market as an Independent practice we have to be able to differentiate ourselves; one way to do this is to give out patient’s access to the most up to date technology. The new curve is in tune with its users who are patients under the age of 18. These millennial’s know what they like and for them to be them to be tested on a modern machine controlled by a touch screen, this would be right up their street. Overall it makes the whole patient journey more relatable to the younger generation and easier not just for myself but my colleagues who are dispensing the end product.
What has your experience of doing business with Cerium Visual Technologies been like?
We have always had a very good relationship with Cerium, from the first time we invested in the Mark 2 Machine. The staff are approachable, helpful and most important consistent. We have been able to build important relationships that have continued over the last few years with the same staff that have got to know us in the practice too.
Have you visited the 100% Optical show? Describe your experience of the show.
Yes I visit the show annually and I see the show as a good opportunity to see the latest spectacle frames from around the world all at the same time. Luckily for us, the show is very local which makes it easily accessible.
The manufacturers stands at the shows really aren’t a priority as we have grown up to expect equipment purchases to be present at the Optrafair. However, having some of the manufacturers present at the show is very useful time to catch up with people and also view new technology due to come on to the market. Although I had no intentions of purchasing a new piece of equipment, as soon as I saw the Curve I made the investment at 100% Optical this year.
What advice would you give our visitors when buying equipment for their practice?
Your patients and lots of other patients in your local area need a local visual stress centre. If you are not able to cater for their needs, someone else will. Once you have made the investment in the equipment, invest time in attending the courses regarding visual stress and colorimetry. These are vital to building a successful business.
Following this please visit the local SENCO & learning development officers in schools and watch your business grow.
What challenges do you see facing the optical industry in the coming years? What is your plan to overcome these challenges?
There are big changes around the corner, all coming very quickly. The current optical business model relying on spectacles sales following simple sight tests just isn’t sustainable in the long term. Differentiate now, offer more and cater for the eccentric needs from patients, this will ensure your business survives in the short time. The long-term survival is dependent on working on the short-term goals, building a solid business on trust, relying on loyal patients to return and giving good word of mouth referrals. Good Luck.