Death of Bernie Egan

Bernie Egan, one of the best salesmen ever to open a sample case of spectacle frames and sunglasses, died on 29 March after several years battling dementia. He was 85.

Bernie began his lengthy career in the optical industry when he was apprenticed as an optical mechanic at Frank G O’Brien in Sydney’s Camperdown.

When O’Brien’s closed its prescription laboratory, he, and others, were taken on by nearby Australian Optical Company, whose laboratories were in every capital city (except Hobart) as well as Newcastle and Townsville.

That was the beginning of a long association with AOC and owner Polarizers Australia, culminating with appointment as a sales representative for AOC, covering the Sydney city and metro area and the southern half of country New South Wales. AOC was sold and became International Optical Company in 1977.

When Austria-based frames and sunglasses manufacturer Optyl opened its Australian subsidiary, Bernie was appointed its first sales representatives, his initial task being to assist optometrists, optical dispensers and optical mechanics understand the Optyl material, particularly how to handle this new material when glazing lenses and adjusting frames for best fit.

Optyl went on to become clear market leader, the material finding favour with wearers and practitioners alike, as it was light to wear, facial fittings remained in place and there

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By | April 18th, 2018|People|

Health-fund premiums rise by average of 3.95%

Premiums for cover by private health insurance companies rose by an average of 3.95 per cent on 1 April, with Bupa rising by the highest percentage – 3.99 per cent.

Medibank Private rose by 3.88 per cent, NIB 3.93, HCF 3.39, and HBF 3.75.

The proportion of Australians with hospital cover fell to 45.6 per cent in the December quarter amid concerns over high premiums, confusing policies and unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

By | April 18th, 2018|Health insurance|

US retail giant Walmart in purchase talks with Humana health insurer

United States retail giant Walmart is in the early stages of talks to buy health insurer Humana, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and other news media on 30 March.

An acquisition would be the latest in a series of high-profile deals that could reshape the health care industry in the US, including CVS Health’s planned acquisition of Aetna.

The acquisition of Aetna was overwhelmingly approved by Aetna shareholders last month, but may face opposition from federal regulators over anti-trust and consumer-protection issues.

Walmart’s market capitalization is $US263 billion ($A341 billion) and the retailer posted $13.6 billion in net income in 2017 on revenue of $485.1 billion.

The company is the third-largest US optical retailer, with its optical business generating sales of $1.7 billion in 2016. It operates 3,575 units, including 3,000 Walmart Vision Centers and 575 Sam’s Optical Club outlets; National Vision operates additional Walmart Vision Centers.

Humana’s market value is $37 billion. In 2017, the company reported net income of $2.4 billion on revenue of $53.8 billion. Its vision-care-insurance business generated $2.2 billion in revenue in 2017.


By | April 18th, 2018|Business|

Ulysses comments …


Back after a short illness

Happy to report back after a short illness; nothing to worry about. The treatment received was much appreciated – and successful.

Now it’s back to the keyboard and blue pencil!


Setting the record straight

I noticed a write-up in an optical magazine reporting a retail optical group’s CEO claiming media reports last year suggesting there was doubt about the group’s ability to continue were inaccurate, followed by direct quotes from the CEO in support of that claim.

The fact is the information about the group’s ability to continue was published in the group’s own directors report to shareholders to 30 June 2017, including this independent statement from its [chartered-accountant] auditors: “… these events or conditions, along with other matters as set forth in [a note to the accounts] indicate that a material uncertainty may exist that may cast significant doubts on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our opinion is not modified in respect of this matter.”

The auditors also said: “The directors are of the opinion that the debt financing and the growth in the businesses required will enable the group to pay its debts when they fall due and therefore believe it is appropriate to prepare the financial report on the going concern basis.

“However in the event

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By | April 18th, 2018|Comment|

Former health minister appointed CEO of Bupa ANZ

A former federal health minister, Ms Nicola Roxon, has been appointed chairman of private health insurance fund Bupa in Australia and New Zealand.

Bupa ANZ is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British United Provident Association Limited, contributing 40 per cent of its parent company’s total revenue and total pre-tax profit.

Ms Roxon was health minister when the then government reduced the Medicare fee for cataract surgery in 2009, saying the government did “not want to pick a fight with specialists but we have to stand up for patients and taxpayers.”

Also, that “improvements in technology have made this life-improving surgery quicker and less expensive. We believe patients and taxpayers, not specialists earning on average half a million dollars a year, should reap the benefits of these improvements.”

Not long afterwards, Ms Roxon was moved to be attorney-general in a re-shuffle of federal ministers.

The decision slashed the Medicare fee for cataract surgery from $831.60 to $416. As Medicare paid a rebate of only 75 per cent of the fee for in-hospital procedures, the new rebate became $312, instead of $623.70.

Medicare rebates for cataract surgery had already been reduced twice, first by 32 per cent in 1987 and by a further 10 per cent in 1996, to take account of the efficiencies of new techniques, particularly phaco-emulsification.


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By | April 2nd, 2018|Comment|

More pre-reg optometry students stumble in UK

More pre-registration students in the United Kingdom are stumbling at Stage 2 of the Scheme for Registration with males doing worse than their female colleagues, according to a study published by the College of Optometrists.

In a cohort of 593 enrolled between 1 June 2014 and 31 May 2015, 82% passed Stage 2 by the second attempt. However, that number is down by 15% in comparison with the college’s last report, which found that 97% passed Stage 2 by their second attempt.

The number of students needing additional re-sits after their second attempt increased by 14%, jumping from 3% to 17% in the space of a year.

The report also showed that female students performed better than males, with 11% more males than females defined at ‘struggling’.

It also showed multiple practices provided 85% of pre-registration training placements.

By | April 2nd, 2018|Education|

Death of Tony Gross

Tony Gross, of the pioneering optician and frame stylists Cutler and Gross, has died peacefully at the age of 78. He suffered from a severe stroke 11 years ago.

He met his business partner Graham Cutler at Northampton College while studying optometry. On graduating in 1963 he went into practice but saw an opportunity to make spectacles more exciting.

Cutler and Gross began selling hand-made fashion frames in 1969 and opened a Knightsbridge practice in 1971. The duo quickly became famous for providing eyewear to Icons such as Elton John, Princess Diana, David Hockney and Grace Jones.

Cutler and Gross flourished during the 1980s as the ‘yuppie’ culture grew and in 1983 the pair launched their first ready-to-wear collection from the Italian region of Cadore.

After suffering his stroke, he sold his stake in the business to pay for his health care.

By | April 2nd, 2018|People|

Ulysses comments …


Honest as the day is long

Some years ago, Hoya was hit by a serious flood in Bangkok that knocked out its big prescription-lens laboratory there for a considerable time.

As a result the company’s laboratories across the world tried to make up for the lost production volume, but, had as they all tried there were delays, causing some clients to take their lens business elsewhere, Australia being no exception.

As a result, competitor laboratories here (ones that actually surfaced and/or fitted lenses locally or had their overseas colleagues do it) received a pile of work, so much so that at the end of it all (when Hoya’s Bangkok laboratory re-opened some months later) one overseas-owned company sent a substantial bonus to be shared by its staff in Australia to thank them for their efforts during the bonanza.

A much-appreciated gesture.

The only problem was that the head of the company here kept the bonus intended for the staff!


The ‘Rt. Hon.’ chairman

Former federal health minister Nicola Roxon has been appointed chairman of large private health insurance fund in Australia and New Zealand, Bupa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of t British United Provident Association Limited.

Let’s hope for Nicola Roxon’s sake she makes a better fist of her new job than what she made of her part in

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By | April 2nd, 2018|Comment|