A look at the journey of the eye care company
By Samay Shetti
The eyes, the windows to the world, are arguably one of the most important sensory organ in the body, and also arguably the least maintained one, too. In a time of excessive exposure to screens, be it on the computer or handheld devices for work or the television and mobile screens for entertainment, the strain on this already overstrained organ has only increased multifold. Sooner or later it takes its toll; and when that happens, the very first thing that comes into one’s mind is a pair of glasses to make up for the lost amount of vision. Weakening eyes being a problem that was once associated only with old age is now making its presence felt among children too, owing to various factors and lifestyle, making ophthalmology and optical industry one of the most important sectors for human well-being. Among the names that are tackling this issue in the state, is Mukta Opticians.
Armed with four decades of operation, Mukta Opticians has made its presence felt not only by being uncompromising in the quality of its products, keeping abreast with latest developments in the eyewear sector, and through their philanthropic work. Evolving over the years, the company now has its own lens manufacturing unit, powered by state-of-the-art machinery. This has not only made the company an independent manufacturer of the required spectacles but has also boosted the revenue in the process, with an annual turnover of over ₹6 crores.
The company was born in the early 1970s in the then sleepy town of Curchorem when two brothers, Ratnakar and Jeevan Sarsolkar came together to form a spectacle frame manufacturing plant from the backyard of their home. The brothers named their venture after their mother, Muktabai Damodar Sarsolkar. After an initial success, the duo had to move their attention towards a different direction as the influx of Chinese spectacle frames changed the equations in the Indian market. This precipitated into the establishment of the first optical store of Mukta Opticians in Curchorem itself. In May 1997, Kishor Sarsolkar, the present head of operations joined the family business after completing his diploma in Optometry from the Institute of Optometry, Bombay. He ushered in a wave of innovation to the business and in the process revamped it completely from its traditional moorings. From there, the company has expanded into nine other branches of which two are in the neighbouring states. With the head office and lens manufacturing facility presently situated in the Dhargal village of Pernem, with their retail outlets operational in Curchorem, Margao, Comba, Vasco-Da-Gama, Panaji, Mapusa, Sanquelim, Belgaum and Sawantwadi. Having a workforce of over 60 personnel, the company has serviced over one hundred thousand satisfied customers.
Speaking about the journey and driving force of Mukta opticians, Kishor Sarsolkar says, “At Mukta, we don’t just look forward to selling, rather we dispense. We treat our customers like they are our God. Their satisfaction by way of sharing quality and value for their money is of utmost importance to us.”
Every customer has a different requirement of lenses based on their profession and usage. Taking this into consideration, Mukta offers personalised customisation options to its customers in terms of material, coating layers, frame dimensions and so on. In terms of ensuring quality, each product by Mukta Opticians is checked on 36 parameters, 4 times through the process before dispensing. “Eyes are very delicate and not something to be played with,” shares Kishor, adding, “A faulty lens produced out of negligence can end up harming a person, rather than help him.” The head office of Mukta Opticians houses a lens manufacturing plant. Systematic quality checking is the key step in all the processes. Skilled and trained professionals ensure complete accuracy and quality of the product.
Mukta Opticians also take pride in their post-sales service and customer care management. They provide an intensive customer support at retail outlets taking care of post-sales service requirements. Moreover, the customer care department at the head office conducts periodic follow-up calls to check on the adaptability of the customers to the product dispensed to them.
Other than customer satisfaction, another factor that defines Mukta Opticians is their philanthropic work.
Studies show that more than 75% of the world’s blindness is preventable and treatable. Being so, there is still an appalling level of ignorance on the subject among the masses. Specifically in this country, presently there is a need to dispense 50 crore spectacles, but even with combined efforts, only a figure of 14 crores is met. Coupled with ignorance, most of the rural parts of the country do not have any access to eye-care facilities. “In Goa, too, there is a requirement for eye-care facilities in many of the remote areas,” shares Kishor. Keeping this scenario in mind, Mukta Opticians started organising free eye-care camps in remote villages, for school children, women welfare organisations, underprivileged populations, etc in Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Companies like Cipla, Sesa Goa, Goa Shipyard, Fomento Resources, Indian Medical Association, Wockhardt, Konkan Railways, Adani Ltd are among the collaborators in this initiative. Mukta Opticians has organised over 650 camps, with over one hundred thousand people screened and over twenty-six-thousand have been provided with spectacles. Recently in July 2018, a camp was organised for the inmates of Central Jail in Colvale too.
Taking this passion ahead, in February of 2011, Mukta Opticians launched its mobile eye clinic. Having started with one, the company presently has three of these clinics-on-wheel decked with all the required tools of diagnosis. Every van is air-conditioned and equipped with instruments such as an auto refractometer, slit lamp, streak retinoscope, tonometer, indirect ophthalmoscope, lensometer, a handheld fundus camera and an optical counter for eye testing.
Mukta Opticians also helps the needy with cataract operations. The identified patients are picked up from their residence for the surgery and are dropped back, too. Kishore says, “The happiness that can be seen in the person after the surgery gives an inexplicable sense of satisfaction.”
The company also organises awareness drives for the masses, such as ‘Walk in the Dark’ an initiative to spread awareness about blindness and eye care. In the year 2016, under their CSR initiative, Mukta Opticians founded an eye care NGO named Mukta Drishti Foundation with the objectives of providing eye care to the masses, promote sustainable entrepreneurial ventures in eye care services, promote general and preventive health care through education, collect data on eye health and utilise it for research and development and to provide guidance and support to develop visually challenged community. Mukta Opticians is also a member of Vision 2020, a unit of World Health Organisation working towards the same end. In recognition of their novel work, Mukta Opticians was conferred an award on a national scale for the Best CSR initiative at the ZEISS You&Eye Awards 2016. They were also felicitated at the Secretariat of Goa for their philanthropic work in November 2017.
Moving ahead, Mukta Opticians plans to restart the in-house spectacle frame manufacturing unit out of a new plant which would make them an independent homogeneous entity, along with boosting revenue. Beyond this, it plans to go international by spreading its operations to the nation of Zambia