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    The Medicine Box: Eye care market

    The Medicine Box: Eye care market

    The Medicine Box: Eye care market
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    By Ekta Batra   IST (Published)

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    The eye care industry, which includes services such as cataract, glaucoma, retina and squint, is valued around USD 1.4 billion in India.

    Today, three out of 10 people in the world who are blind are expected to be from India and as many as eight out of 10 people go blind in the country due untreated cataract, which is a treatable condition. Similarly, over 1.2 crore people in India suffer from glaucoma, again a condition that can be managed. However, of them, 12.5 percent are losing their eyesight.
    Today, more than 90 percent glaucoma cases remain diagnosed in the country and around 50 lakh surgeries are needed to clear the backlog of blindness and visual impairment due to cataract.
    The eye care industry, which includes services such as cataract, glaucoma, retina and squint, is valued around USD 1.4 billion in India. In fact, the Indian eye care market is categorised by a few of the larger pan-India hospitals, corporate enjoying 5-6 percent market share, followed by a long tail, which is basically a large number of regional or smaller eye care players such as specialised hospitals, led by solo practices of doctors.
    Interestingly some of these solo practices too have seen a recent surge for example Dr Agarwal of Dr Agarwal’s Eye Care or Dr Singhvi of ASG Hospitals.
    Earlier this year, Dr Agarwal's Healthcare, the promoter group of Dr Agarwal Eye Care, raised over Rs 1,000 crore from TPG and Temasek. The latest was a private company ASG Eye Hospitals, which runs over 50 eye care hospitals, raising Rs 1,500 crore from private equity (PE) funds General Atlantic and Kedaara Capital.
    CNBC-TV18 spoke to Dr Singhvi of ASG and Akash Sachdev of Foundation Holdings, a homegrown PE firm that is an existing investor in ASG, to find out more about their business and the potential of the eye care industry.
    According to ASG, the eye care industry in fact has seen a recent surge in demand post COVID-19 as the need for electives normalised and there was more awareness about health conditions. Dr Singhvi of ASG, which looks to partner or buy out the top 2 to 3 eye care practices in every micro market, in fact saw growth triple from the pre-COVID-19 levels of 15-20 percent.
    The company has raised funds for their partnership model and is looking at 15 more such partnerships or mergers and acquisitions across the country. The range or size of their acquisitions of smaller regional eye care practices can range from Rs 25-Rs 30 crore to Rs 200-300 crore. While the company looks to institutionalise the doctors practice that they acquire, there is always a fear of how one maintains quality, especially in a service as delicate as eye care.
    Lastly, the company believes there will be more fund raising and consolidation in the industry and that an IPO will be a journey it is looking at, eventually expanding into South East Asia. And while they have made inroads into north and central India, their eyes are now set on expanding in the South.
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