Interview with Martin Robinson – Owner of Martin’s Eyecare
Recently I was interviewed about Martin’s Eyecare. Watch the video below where we discuss:
– My back story and how the optometry practice in Glenorchy came about
– Explanation of the Telstra Best of Business Championing Health Care Award
– Deep dive into the services included in our comprehensive eye examinations
– Contact lenses vs glasses and the pros and cons of each
– Discussion about the designer eyewear brands we stock
– How Martin’s Eyecare helps Tasmanian companies with emergency eye care and prescription safety glasses
Book your eye care appointment with us today at Martin’s Eyecare.
Call (03) 6272 8423 or use the “Book Appointment” button on our home page.
– Martin Robinson, Optometrist & Owner.
[00:00:03.630] – Paul
Okay, so hello. My name is Paul Sallaway, and I’m from Optics Digital Marketing, and I’m talking to Martin Robinson, who is the owner of Martin’s Eyecare in Glenorchyt, Tasmania, just to the north of Hobart. Hi, Martin. How are you doing?
[00:00:18.960] – Martin
I’m doing very well, thank you. It’s been a busy week and a busy month. Just keep going, keeps on piling on.
[00:00:26.630] – Paul
Yeah, never stops, does it? Maybe to kick us off, you could just tell us a little bit about your practice, Martin’s Eyecare. So how it got started, your backstory. Just give us a quick intro to that.
[00:00:41.090] – Martin
Yes, my backstory is a little bit quirky because I’m not a Tassie local, so I’m a blow-in from Queensland. And I went to school in Queensland at a variety places. And I went to uni in Queensland. And my first jobs were in Queensland as well. And my first jobs were partly in private practice and partly working for the Fred Hollows Foundation on a fly in, fly out work through remote communities throughout Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait Islands, which was heaps of fun. And I did that right up until I moved to Tassie, which was into late 2006. And I started Martin’s Eye Care as such in 2009. So I’ve been down here for a couple of years just doing a bit of locum and working for a couple of different companies, and thought that I missed running my own show, and I missed providing the care that I think is appropriate, as opposed to what my boss tells me is appropriate.
[00:01:31.990] – Paul
And you’re in Glenorchy. Can you tell us a little bit about the community there. So just to paint a picture of the area where you’re located.
[00:01:44.250] – Martin
Yeah, Glenorchy is a really interesting place, and I chose to go there because one, there’s a really interesting dynamic of populations. There’s people from all different walks of life with all different income streams and job roles, etc, etc. And it’s considered in the past, I guess it’s been considered a slightly worse off suburb in some ways. But I really think it’s more of a historically a bit of a working class suburb, which doesn’t bother me because I’m from a working class family. That’s how I grew up. We didn’t grow up with airs and graces. I didn’t go to private schools or anything like that. So for me, the mums and dads of the community are the ones that are the heart of Glenorchy. And there’s new people coming into the suburb all the time. And it’s almost, what’s the funky term they do in the mainland? They talk about gentrification, and changes of societies and changes of suburbs. So Glenorchy is certainly becoming a [00:02:45.800] very livable suburb, which is its own city, which is very close to Hobart, but it’s a little bit more space and a little bit less stress living out this way.
[00:02:55.550] – Martin
And the city designers of Glenorchy, I think, did a cracking job. They did a great job of having lots of parking, flat land, strip shops and shopping centres all mixed in. And it means that there’s almost a conglomerate of medical care. So there’s a lot of optometrists in Glenorchy. There’s a lot of doctors and pharmacies and X-ray pathology places as well. And so it means if you go to town, go to Glenorchy … and dentists as well and chiropractors and physios, … you can get all of that activity done, catching one bus and going to one centre and having it all there. So it’s a nice little hub, which is great. And it’s not something Tasmania has done particularly well. There’s a lot of hodgepodge stuff going on in various areas. But I think Glenorchy, their town planners back in the day, did really good job.
[00:03:49.830] – Paul
Okay, well, it sounds great. Well, the thing that I’d like to ask you about first, Martin, is preempted by your background there, which is the Telstra Best of Business Award. And why was Martin’s Eye Care chosen as the Tasmanian Championing Health Award winner in 2022?
[00:04:14.110] – Martin
Well, I’ve got, in some ways, you don’t know, as a winner, you know you’ve won, and you can have an idea about what you’re good at, and what you’re successful with, and what you’re proactive about. But I guess I’ve got a slightly different perspective as well, which is possibly more rounded, because the last couple of years since I won, I’ve been a judge in the 2023 Telstra Best of Business Awards for championing health category as well. And again, this year in the 2024, Telstra Best of Business Championing Health Award as well. So I’ve been on both a contestant or an entrant side, as well as a judge. So I’ve got dual perspectives. So I start to see a little bit about why, perhaps I was chosen above other notable entries in this category, because it’s a big thing. What Telstra look for, is they look for a successful business. It can be small, or medium size, or quite large. There are rules about different categories about who can enter, but they really are looking for someone that’s almost batting above [00:05:14.210] their weight, that they look for someone that’s doing more than their core business to try and achieve a better goal.
[00:05:20.490] – Martin
So better outcomes for Australians, being a health champion, literally. What else are you doing? Are you just doing your nine to five? Which is great and there’s nothing against that. But are you doing something more than that? And that’s what they’re looking for. They’re looking for something that’s tangible. So some of the things that I do that are perhaps more and not nine to five work, is I also sit on boards of a not profit organisation. So I sit as a board chair and a State and a National President for the Cornea and Contact Lens Society. And I find that’s a way of giving back to optometry. It’s being a champion of all things front surface of the eye, which is my happy place. That’s what I know more about, and that’s where I’ve got better skill sets. And that’s something that I’m very passionate about. I also do things like I go and speak to community groups. I go and speak to Lions clubs. I go and speak to Probus clubs, Rotary clubs, [00:06:20.730] Legacy. Anyone that asks me, school for seniors and the like, I’ll go and have a talk about eye health in general.
[00:06:27.410] – Martin
And I’ll ask them what do they want to hear about? Do they want to hear about my tales and tribulations about the Fred Hollow Foundation work that I used to do? Or do they want to hear about the common things that hit someone over the age of 50? What are the five most common eye conditions that are treatable or not treatable or whatever? What are the most common causes of blindness or something of that nature? I might even do a talk on driving. How does each of these common eye conditions affect you on the road? And I’ll try and talk to those people. And these people are not all my patients. Sometimes they’ll be someone in the audience that is my patient that knows me. But we’re trying to give education to the broader community. And why do you go to community groups? Because they have a broader reach than what I do. Each one of those people is active in the community. They go to events and they raise money, and they do sausage, sizzles, and they run stalls at the show and they talk to people and they promote the story about good eye health and good regular checkups and all of those sorts of things.
[00:07:23.380] – Martin
So if you’re going to have an impact that’s larger than what you can do as a practitioner, then you embrace the community that you’re within, and you try and get them on your side. And that raises my profile, I guess, in that there’s a self-serving aspect of going and talking. But the major factor is trying to promote health awareness and eye health awareness in particular. And that’s something that I’m really passionate about. In addition to that, I go and do public speaking. So I do speaking at local, national and international conferences on eye health. And I sit on a couple of other national boards and advisory bodies and things. So with that, I guess in some ways, I’m batting a little bit above my weight in some respects, if we compare that to someone that’s an employee that works nine to five. So I’ve got that luxury of being a practice owner that I can give a little bit of my own time for the greater good or for other things. And that’s something that I think is appropriate. We should be doing all as practitioners as we should be helping as many people as possible.
[00:08:24.350] – Paul
Right. So it certainly does sound like you’ve been giving a lot back to the community in terms of education. And I know that within your practice, you place a premium on customer service and creating a good experience for all of your patients.
[00:08:41.810] – Martin
And that’s the retail side of things, which is the other half of optometry, because we can’t really exist on just consultations and health care alone. So doing the right thing by each individual is key. And I think that’s something that’s missed sometimes in some places. I don’t think everyone gives quite that individual attention and care. And that’s something that I think we’re pretty proud that we’ve supplied that as well.
[00:09:08.760] – Paul
Well, so talking about consultations, that maybe gives me a segway into my next question, which is can you explain to us in layman’s terms, what is it that you actually check for when you perform a comprehensive eye test? When somebody walks into your practice and says, hey, I’d like to have a consultation with you. How long is your typical consultation? And what happens during that time? What are some of the examinations and tests and things that you look for?
[00:09:42.590] – Martin
So in terms of how long does a standard consultation take with us? It is anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. So there are certain types of consultations that we allocate a longer time for, and they might be a diabetic consultation, or a new patient, or a person with complex needs, in which case we automatically will book a longer consult, of the 60 minute consult. But the standard consultation is 30 minutes, and that certainly used to be standard in the profession. And I think 20 minute consultations are becoming much more prevalent, much more common at a variety of practices. But I don’t think you can do enough in 20 minutes, in my view, to provide enough care. One of the biggest things that’s the first thing that we do when we enter the consulting room with a patient, is say, Why are you here today? Is this a routine checkup or is there something in particular you want me to look at? Because that will change my whole persona and my whole attack of what I do. If someone’s coming [00:10:42.760] in with a specific complaint, then that’s the thing that we’ll concentrate on. And at the end of that, if we’ve got to resolution and we’ve got an answer to what their particular complaint is, or we’ve got a diagnosis, then we’ll be saying, look, I want you to come back.
[00:10:53.920] – Martin
And we haven’t done our regular, full consultation, but I’ll get you to come back for that. If someone’s coming in for a regular consultation, then part of that is case history, which is literally talking to each other. So me asking a patient question saying, Do you have any troubles with your long distance vision? Do you have any trouble with your near vision? Do you have trouble on the computer? Are any of those things that you wear glasses for or content lenses for? Do your eyes feel dry or itchy at the start of the day or at the end of the day? Are there any symptoms where your eyes feel funny or you’re light sensitive? And all of those questions and answers with patients takes a bit of time. It’s almost like I’m getting to know my patient, and they’re getting to know that I’m actually interested in what their answers are, because each one of those answers is categorising in my brain about when I start doing my exam, I might look at them using a microscope called a slip lamp, and we look at the front surface of the eye, and I say, Well, look, you mentioned before that you’ve got some trouble with glaring sensitivity and [00:11:54.020] the headlights at night really bother you.
[00:11:55.350] – Martin
What I can see when I look in your eyes is some cataract. And cataract is a cloudiness that causes a scatter of light. So any light that enters your eye gets scattered and dispersed. And what we see as a patient when we’ve got cataracts and lights entering our eyes, is glare, star-burst, halos, and all that stuff. Do you see things like halos and star-burst on headlights at night? Do you see them in the daytime? And that opens that dialogue again, and it shows the patient that I’ve listened to what they had to say before, that they’re important, that their symptoms or their complaints are important. And we try and find an answer for those in the checkup. Beyond that, we also look at the pressure of the eye. So we’ve got a couple of different types of machines to check the pressure. I’ve got my favourite one, which is a little hand-held tool called an iCare. An iCare doesn’t require any anesthetic or any dyes or drops going into the eyes. It’s almost a tickly sensation, having the pressure down. It’s a bit better than the puff of air testers of years gone by.
[00:12:50.750] – Martin
We also check the back of the eye. The back of the eye can be checked in lots of different ways. So we can do it manually using that same microscope that I talked about before. So we can hold a little lens up to the eye, and we can actually see right the way into the macular and the optic nerve, and look to see if they’re flat, look to see what the blood vessels are like. Beyond that, we can actually take images, what they call retinal or fundus photos. And there are traditional fundus cameras that work great and they give us high res images. There are new generations that are confocal scanners. I’ve got one of those in my consulting room. The EIDON confocal scanner is quite amazing. So it’s an ultra wide field capture device, so it captures a wider field of view than a normal camera would. But with high resolution and high definition. And in the same time it takes a normal camera to take a single photo, the EIDON captures 1,000 images. And from that, it gets a composite image that is what we get to see. And that’s what we put up on the screen, and we have a chat with our patients.
[00:13:45.430] – Martin
Both Adam and myself that work at Martin’s Eyecare. We both like doing that. We like educating patients. So we’ll get it up on the screen and say, Here’s your macular. And there’s, perfectly, that’s exactly how a macular should look. Or here’s your macular, and there’s some ageing changes there. There’s some age related and macular degeneration changes. We look at the optic nerve, we’ve got the blood vessels, and each one of those we say, This is great, or it’s not, or it’s got some problems, or we point out a problem. And then say, Have you got any questions about that? Always we come back to, does the patient understand the things that we’ve tried to say? We don’t use as much Latin, a lot of medicines in Latin, because most people don’t speak much Latin. So we try and use everyday terms. I often tend to use analogies. So if I’m talking about the shape of an eyeball, an eyeball could be perfectly round like a soccer ball, or an eyeball could be shaped a bit like the side of an AFL football. And most people in Tassie get the difference between the two. And it’s a tangible thing that people can understand.
[00:14:44.900] – Martin
And I also use props in my room. I’ve got little models that I use, and I pull out all the time to demonstrate or show what their cataracts look like in reality or what their eye shape is like if I’ve got a little squishy toy of an eyeball. And I think that’s good. So at the end of the day, we want the person to understand it. Maybe not in the depth that I understand it, but I want them to understand exactly what’s going on in their body, in their eye. And then if they’re better educated and better informed, then they’ll make better decisions about their eye health going forward.
[00:15:16.550] – Paul
Well, you touched on you mentioned that every optometry practice has a retail aspect to their business. And I know that in your practice, you provide patients with glasses and contact lenses. And years ago, I had contacts, so I’ve had both glasses and lenses. And I know that when it was me in that situation, I had a number of questions about the pros and cons of contacts versus glasses. So I’m sure this is a conversation that you’ve had many, many times. So I’m just wondering if you could just share with us what are some of the frequently asked questions that you get when people are considering that choice between glasses or contact lenses?
[00:15:57.150] – Martin
I guess some of the myths that I come across on a regular basis are, and these are some of the excuses that I get given is, Oh, I’m too old of contact lenses. I couldn’t do them. That’s crazy. I fitted new contact lenses to a new patient in her 90s. If she can do it, well, anyone can do it. I’ve done contact lenses to newborns, where we get the parents involved in the care of contact lenses. I don’t think age is a factor. That’s the first falsehood. Second is, Oh, I couldn’t possibly touch my eyes. This is often coming from ladies with beautifully impeccable makeup. Yeah, you can. You’re doing great with your makeup. You’re getting right on the lashes with the mascara. You’re doing the eyeliner. You’re doing all of that foundation and other eye shadows. You’re doing a really good job. You’re used to going close to your eye. What happens when you get a bit of makeup in your eye? You clean it out, don’t you? You get an lash in the eye, you clean it out. You’re doing this already. This is just a new skill that we need to teach you.
[00:16:46.550] – Martin
It’s about broadening your skill base. Again, not being able to do something is really a bit of a falsehood. It’s a bit of a myth. There’s absolutely we can teach people how to put content lenses in their eye. It may not take one training session. Sometimes we might take two training sessions or three training sessions, but we’ll get there. The advantages and disadvantages of glasses and contact lenses depends on what you’re wanting them for. If you’re wanting to throw away your glasses and never wear them again and only wear contact lenses, that’s more challenging pathway. It’s doable, but not every contact lens can do everything. Some contact lenses can, but they are more specialty, more niche. Most contact lenses give us something that’s pretty good vision, but would try to be ideal for certain settings. For me, I wear glasses. I’ve got them on at the moment. I wear contact lenses as well, and I wear them using a system called Monovision, where I’ve got one eye that’s slightly better for distance, and one eye that’s slightly better for reading. They’re [00:17:46.930] great for reading menus. They’re great for reading measuring tape. They’re great for climbing ladders in my house, doing odd jobs or building structures in my yard.
[00:17:57.140] – Martin
I really enjoy wearing them. I wear them on weekends, and I wear them socially. And I wear them if I go out with my wife to see the movies or to go and have lunch. And I can read menus, and I can do all of those things, and not have to worry about my glasses, and not have to worry about rain getting on my specs. There’s some huge advantages of them. I don’t get quite as good a close vision with them, but I’ve chosen to set them up that way, so they’ll be great for all of the things that I wanted to do. So I’ve chosen to have them with slightly better middle vision, where I’m using my hands, when I’m working in the yard and that stuff. And they work really well with all of that. If I make them so that I’m really good for reading, then I don’t do as well in the yard. And that’s where I want to wear my content lenses. So I’ve set my content lenses up that are specially designed and powered to try and do the job that I’m wanting them to do. So first thing I ask patients is what do you want them for?
[00:18:48.730] – Martin
Do you want them for playing netball? Do you want them for playing soccer? Do you want them for umpiring? Do you want them for social? Do you want to wear them at work? And each one of those things would determine a different pathway of a different content lens. And it’s about finding the right product to fit your requirements. I think that’s probably the biggest thing, because with some types of multifocal contact lenses that we’ve got, because I wear multifocal glasses, we talk about vision good, not vision perfect. So we want vision that’s pretty good to do a variety of tasks, which means that that opens up doorways and makes things enjoyable, not necessarily vision perfect, because vision perfect doesn’t always come with certain designs of contact lenses. So it’s a matter of a little bit of brain adaptation, which sometimes takes a bit more of a challenge for some brains than others. And certainly I’ve worn multifocal contact lenses, and they were great for nearly everything, but they weren’t good for everything. So for me, I really like what I’ve got set up for myself. It works for me. And sometimes we [00:19:48.740] do that with patients.
[00:19:49.610] – Martin
We might try multifocal contact lenses. We might try monomission contact lenses. We’ll get to a happy place eventually. And if someone’s got dry eyes, there are specialty contact lenses that make dry eyes much more comfortable and make things less drying on the eye so your eye doesn’t rebel against the contact lenses. And that’s key as well, because a lot of people drop out of wearing contact lenses from eye dryness. And I certainly know I did even back in my 20s, and I gave up. But the lenses we’ve got now are different to the lenses that were around 10 years ago, 20 years ago. The technology and the R&D that’s gone into these things is off the chart. It’s just amazing.
[00:20:22.410] – Paul
Well, I think when I was younger, the principal reason why I started wearing contact lenses was for sport. But these days I’m not quite as active as I used to be. I’ve got my glasses now, which I like, and a lot of people comment on. I guess that one of the reasons that people choose glasses is because there’s a fashion element to it as well, isn’t it? And that… And that brings me along to my next question to you, which is about the brands of frames that you have in your practice there. I know you’ve got a lot. You’ve got about 800 different types of frames in the store there.
[00:20:58.870] – Martin
Yeah, we do.
[00:20:59.470] – Paul
You can talk a little bit about the brands that you carry and maybe what are some of your favourites and why.
[00:21:05.400] – Martin
-yeah, it’s interesting because if you think of brands, there are certain brands that stand out. There are iconic brands of eyewear of things like Ray-Ban, maybe Prada and Versace and things. And there’s big reasons for why those brands are famous because they’re the brands that are owned by the largest optical company in the planet. So they have a lot of brand power. They have a lot of influencer power. They have a lot of advertising push. Everybody knows those brands. And I guess they don’t excite me. If eyewear is meant to be individual, why should we want the same frame that every man on the planet’s got? I want something that’s a little bit more specialised or more individual. So what I tend to gravitate to, I gravitate to slightly smaller companies that are more family-orientated. So if not family-orientated, they’re a smaller company, which has got a very clear pathway as to what they want to achieve. So some of my favourite brands are [00:22:05.520] a brand called Vanni, which comes out of Torino in Italy. And Vanni Eyewear, the patriarch of the family is Giovanni. Giovanni is the man behind Vanni Eyewear. And that’s where the Vanni comes from, because it’s a short version of his name.
[00:22:23.690] – Martin
And he makes glasses. The slogan on the back of it, on the side of his frames is, Made in Italy, for sure. It’s real because there’s a lot of fakeness about what is made in Italy and what’s not made in Italy. Some things that you’d say they’re made in Italy are not they’re made in China. But at least his stuff is made in Italy. They’re priced well. They’re priced really well. The quality is lovely. The metal frames use hand painted paint on them. That’s the same paint as automotive paint. So it’s amazingly durable, and it’s a little thicker. And when you apply it by hand, you get a thicker coat. Whereas most are painted by robots, and they’re painted with a very thin amount. We can compare that to paint jobs that might have been on an old H. G. Holden versus the paint job on a new Tesla. Tesla scratch is really easy. Seriously easy. I’ve got a few mates that have got them. I wouldn’t buy one. But the paint is thin, because it’s applied with microns of thickness, whereas hand painted [00:23:23.740] is painted a little bit thicker, and that means it’s more durable.
[00:23:26.170] – Martin
So that’s what some of the really good eye do as well. Other brands that we love are things like Etnia Barcelona, which is the brand that I’m wearing. And Etnia Barcelona have been around for a long, long time originally. And they’re a familial brand from Spain, whereas Vanni are from Italy, Etnia Barcelona are from Barcelona. So they’ve got some amazing colours and styles and patterns for both male and female, which is great, and both eyewear and sunglasses too. So they’ve got a broader reach. Another brand that I carry that is something that I think there’s only one other optometrists in Australia that carries. There’s a brand called Clémence and Margaux. And Clémence and Margaux come from a family company from Fratel in France. And I’ve been dealing with those guys for eight or ten years, I suppose now. It’s been a little while. And Clémence is named after Clémence, which is one of the daughters of the family. And Margaux is her sister. So Clémence and Margaux are two sisters. And Clémence had [00:24:26.190] an eye problem when she was younger, and her eyes didn’t work properly, and she had to wear and she couldn’t find anything that she liked, that she wanted to wear.
[00:24:33.960] – Martin
So the family went, well, why don’t we start making a range? And they started making eyewear. So Clémence works as a model in the US, and Margaux works in the family factory, and they still together with their father, they make eyewear that are made and designed by ladies for ladies. And their more petite sizes and the colours and styles are really lovely. And we’re proud that we’ve got those here because we’re the only one that carry them in Tasmania. Other ones that we import, which are really a little bit special are the things called Francis Klein. Francis Klein is another familial brand. Francis Klein is the patriarch of the family, and he’s French from Saint-Germain de Pris, which is in Paris. And even though he’s retired now, his two daughters run the firm. So one of them makes the eyewear, and one creates the eyewear. So one comes up with the ideas and the other one manufactures them. And they use all sorts of colours and combinations and real Tchivowski crystals, and they [00:25:34.640] hand etch their frames and they’ll paint them with real gold. So they do a little bit of things that are a little bit more individual.
[00:25:41.410] – Martin
And sometimes the decoration on the right side is different to the decoration on the left side. There’s a bit of asymmetry there that’s not on purpose. So these glasses have got a special folding way. So when you fold them, if you fold them with the one arm first and the second arm second, they will fold flat. But if you hold them in reverse, they don’t fold flat. And that’s how you tell a handmade frame, because handmade frames, the temples and the attachments are made asymmetrically to make them only fold one way. So if you try and fold them the wrong way and shut them in a case, you’ll crush them and you’ll push them out of shape. So we always teach our patients right first, then left. That’s with those particular frames. You know, mine didn’t do it because Etnia Barcelona are made in more of a production line. So and they’re not handmade, even though their hands are involved in the manufacturing and with perfection and critical thing and they will fold the same matter, it doesn’t matter which way you put them down. So when someone’s buying some of our glasses, it’s the first time they’ve ever had a handmade frame from an artisan.
[00:26:40.880] – Martin
And as such, they’ve got to be taught a little bit about the specialty things about them. Our everyday frames that we love at things at ranges are things like Police and Jaguar. They’re just great, great men’s frames. And we’ve got things like Furla and Jisco and things like that for the ladies as well. And we’ve also got some really iconic Australian brands. We’ve got the Martin Wells, which has been around since the 50s. And Martin Wells, claim to fame, came with… Because they were the original glasses that were worn by Dame Edna on her TV show, was wearing Martin Wells frames. And they were an Australian fashion line that was sold in New York, and they were sold in London, and they were sold all around the world coming out of Australia. And that brand has been relaunched. And it’s been launched by a Melbourne family called the Van Stavrons. And they make ranges of frames up to their own names. There’s a Van Stavron range of frames, which are affordable everyday glasses. And they’ve got Mark Vincent, which are a little bit funky styling as well. So we carry quite a bit of stuff from the Van Stavron boys.
[00:27:39.010] – Martin
And it’s nice to support families. It’s nice to support real people and to have a story behind where are we? I think that’s what floats my boat these days.
[00:27:48.250] – Paul
Well, speaking of supporting locally made products, so when we talk glasses, we can talk frames, but there’s also the lenses as well. I know that you like to support local Australian manufacturers of lenses. Is that right? So can you tell us a little more about that?
[00:28:07.470] – Martin
Yeah. So one of the things that we do is we try and support Australian local as much as we can. It’s tricky, because a lot of people say there’s no such thing as Australian manufacturing anymore. That all that’s gone. With the car companies pulling out of Australia, with various other companies pulling out of Australia. But the truth is, there is. There are lens companies that are making lenses in Australia, in Melbourne. These are family companies again that are making great quality eyewear. And because they’re not a corporate entity there, they’re a family company, they can go to Japan and say, I think that material is great. We’re going to work with you and we’re going to use that material. That production line is great out of Germany. We’re going to get that machine and we’re going to put it in our production line. So what they’ve got is some amazing bits and pieces over there, which means we’re getting world quality lenses, world’s best lenses and world’s best coatings and world’s best materials, but they’re being manufactured on the ground in Melbourne. So there’s 52 people that are employed at the CR [00:29:07.510] Surfacing Labs in Melbourne, which is great.
[00:29:10.010] – Martin
So it means every time we sell a pair of lenses, we’re actually supporting Australia. We’re supporting Australian jobs and Australian manufacturing, and I think that’s a good thing to be proud of. But they’re not everything that we sell either. If there’s something that we need for a particular patient that needs something that we can’t supply through their lens portfolio, we’ll go to a German company, we’ll go to a Japanese company, we’ll go to a different safety company to get the right product for that patient. So it doesn’t stop us doing exactly what a patient needs and individualising care. 95-97 % of what we sell comes under that Australian made umbrella, which is great. Right.
[00:29:43.430] – Paul
So it sounds like you do have very much a focus of supporting the community there in Hobart and Tasmania. And that brings me to my last question, which is I’d like to ask you about prescription safety glasses because eye injuries, they are fairly common, unfortunately. And so it is something that employers have to take seriously, thinking about the health and wellbeing of their employees and having appropriate procedures in place for emergency eye care if the case arrives, if the case occurs, and also providing proper protective equipment. And I know that you’ve had some contracts with local companies there in Tasmania for helping them with eye care protection. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?
[00:30:39.280] – Martin
Yeah, certainly. I’ve spent, I guess, nearly my whole career working with one way or another, with various groups providing safety eyewear, and being a consultant on site at mine sites and things up in Queensland in the coal belt. And in Tassie, we don’t have any coal mines down here, but there are a lot of larger employers that are very conscious about safety eye care, and safety eyewear. So what we’ve worked out over the time that my practice has been open since 2009, is we’ve been working closer and closer with a local group, called INCAT, or International Catamarans. And INCAT have got a fairly large, stable employee base. And we look after all of those with their prescription safety glasses that are certified. And we’ve got two groups of people, the ones that work on sight on tools, and they’ll need proper certified safety glasses with side shields and the right protective fit to their face, and the right lenses, and the right impact and chemical resistance as well. [00:31:40.170] Some of the safety lenses that are provided by some of the companies in Australia are not chemically resistant, not temperature resistant, not acid resistant. And they use a lot of unusual chemicals on site at INCAT.
[00:31:51.340] – Martin
Acid washes on some of the bits and bits of gear. And if your glasses get splashed or get exposed to some of these chemicals, it can damage your prescription safety lenses. So we try and make sure that what we sell is fit for the job role of the person that we’re giving the glasses to, because there are more resilient lenses, and there are less resilient lenses as well. And the second group of people are the ones that work in the offices, and they’ve got to have safety eyewear, but not necessarily meeting, because they’re not working on tools, they don’t have to meet the same level of standard. So what we do with those is we make up glasses that meet the standard. We fit impact resistant lenses and chemically resistant lenses, but we don’t always fit the safety side shields to those people, because they’re only using them in the office, so they can get away with a slightly less protective eyewear. But that’s not appropriate for anyone that works on the drills or on the grinders or the cutting tools. They need the proper ones. And some of the other things that we talk to people about are welders, we talk to them about whether or not [00:32:51.840] we can suggest the right power magnification insert, so they can get for their automatic welding shields and welding helmets.
[00:33:01.590] – Martin
And if you can get these ones, they have what they call prisim ballasting lenses in that make your eyes comfortable when you’re looking at things up close for a long period of time. And some of these guys don’t know about those prescription snap-ins. They don’t know where to go to get them. They don’t know what they’re allowed to get. So if we try and aid them in that, we don’t sell them, but we give people good advice on what they could buy at the local welding supply shop, that’s going to make their life easier on site. In addition to that, we tend to do their major triage. So if someone gets an eye injury at work, they will ring us first, and we’ll fit them into our full book, and we’ll just say, look, come on down, and we’ll see you in between patients. And most of our patients, if we say, look, we’ve got an emergency here from a building site, do you mind if we see them first? They’re pretty happy with that. And then that might be a little bit of suaff or a little bit of drill residue that’s got caught underneath an eyelid, or it might be something that’s flown up and ricocheted off a cheek, and around the safety glasses and into the cornea.
[00:34:00.020] – Martin
Sometimes it’s a chemical burn, or a wash, or something has got splashed into the eye, and we’re dealing with that. Each one of these things requires a different level of triage and a different level of treatment. And what we try and do is we assess how serious it is, assess whether it’s something that we can manage in-house. And 98% of the things that we do, we do exactly that. But if there’s something that is a little bit beyond our comfort zone, that’s beyond our skill set, then we won’t be treating that patient. We’ll be saying, look, we need to get you to someone that’s high level, and we’ll then arrange for that to happen. But what that means is the people get seen quickly. They get triage in a suburb that’s next to their workplace, instead of having to go and sit in an emergency room of a local hospital, or sit in a major clinic, where they’re being waited to have something done that we think we can do quite happily in Martin’s eye care, in our own practice. And the guys are pretty good. Occasionally if I’m away, if I don’t have any optometrist cover, we’ll get those patients to be seen by other local optometrists as well.
[00:34:59.630] – Martin
But they often come back saying, We like how you handle things better, which is nice with a bit of feedback to get. But we can’t be available every single hour of every single day, so we try and handle as much as we can.
[00:35:13.580] – Paul
All right. Well, that sounds great. Well, thanks very much for sharing those insights, Martin, and in your practice there. So if people want to connect with you, if they want to come and see you and talk about their eye care and maybe chat with you about contacts or a new pair of designer frames. What’s the best way to find you?
[00:35:38.930] – Martin
There’s two, I guess there’s three ways. One is you can come and find us at Shop 1, 359 Main Road, Glenorchy, which is on the main drag in Glenorchy. We’re midway between Shiploads and the hotel, basically. We’ve got X-ray across the road and pathology across the road. So we’re quite centrally located. The other thing is to give us a call on 0362728423. And the third way, which is becoming, and we’re getting most of our patients booking this way, is to book online through using the HotDocs app. So with HotDocs, you can log in to your account at HotDocs. You can search for Martin’s Eye Care, and you can see whether or not you want to get an appointment with either myself or Adam, and it will show you all the available appointments for today, this week, next week, next month, depending on when you’re wanting to come in. And that way you can pick and choose something that suits to your advantage as well. There’s a more [00:36:41.040] niche clinic that I run, which is where my passion is, which is in Dry Eye. And the Dry Eye consultations, it’s better to phone us or email us.
[00:36:50.610] – Martin
And you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org because each one of those consultations, we tailor it to the person and a bit of their backstory that we get on the phone or via an email. And then we’ll book them on to certain days and the certain clinics, which you can’t get access to through HotDocs. So that’s something that we try and become a little bit more careful about how we manage those patients. So we’ve got enough time to look after them and enough time to do everything that’s required for us. For example, I get a couple of patients that are sent down to me from Launceston. And if you’re driving all the way from Launceston and you want to get it all done in one go, you don’t want to suddenly say, Look, we’re going to do half this first half, and you’re going to have to come back for the second half. We sometimes will book a longer consultation, and sometimes that’s a 90 minute consult, not a 60 minute consult. And sometimes I need every minute of that 90 minutes, and sometimes I run late, because I’m just trying to do too much in one short setting.
[00:37:44.450] – Martin
That what most of our consultations are either diagnostic, or their review, or their treatment. And each one of those will require a different amount of time. Okay.
[00:37:57.610] – Paul
All right. And so that HotDocs app that you mentioned, that’s accessible from your website as well, isn’t it?
[00:38:05.330] – Martin
It is! There’s a link on our website and on our Facebook page as well. And I think the data that we’ve got is maybe 80% of GP visits or appointments booked in Tassie are coming through HotDocs. So it’s a very common, very widespread app. Not everyone’s going to have access to that, but it is certainly available for people that are a little bit more tech-savvy. Yeah.
[00:38:32.240] – Paul
Some people will want to maybe just give you a call and-
[00:38:36.650] – Martin
Absolutely! We’re old school. We’re happy to answer phones.
[00:38:38.920] – Paul
Go analogue. All right. Well, thanks very much, Martin. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you, so thanks very much.
[00:38:47.850] – Martin
Thank you very much for the opportunity as well. Thanks, mate.