The eye care industry, which includes services such as cataract, glaucoma, retina and strabismus, is valued at around $1.4 billion in India.
Today, three out of 10 blind people in the world are expected to come from India and up to eight out of 10 people will go blind in the country due to untreated cataract, which is a treatable condition. . Similarly, over 1.2 million people in India suffer from glaucoma, again a condition that can be managed. However, among them, 12.5% lose their sight.
Today, over 90% of 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 cataracts.
The eye care industry, which includes services such as cataract, glaucoma, retina and strabismus, is valued at around $1.4 billion in India. In fact, the Indian eye care market is ranked by a few of the largest pan-Indian hospitals, with companies holding a 5-6% market share, followed by a long tail, which is basically a large number of regional or smaller eye care players such as as specialist hospitals, run by solo doctor’s practices.
Interestingly, some of these solo practices have also seen a recent surge, for example Dr. Agarwal from Dr. Agarwal Eye Care or Dr. Singhvi from ASG Hospitals.
Earlier this year, Dr Agarwal’s Healthcare, the sponsoring 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 more than 50 eye care hospitals, raising Rs 1,500 crore from private equity (PE) funds General Atlantic and Kedaara Capital.
CNBC-TV18 spoke with Dr. Singhvi of ASG and Akash Sachdev of Foundation Holdings, a local private equity firm that is an existing investor in ASG, to learn more about their business and industry potential eye care.
According to ASG, the eye care industry actually saw a recent surge in demand post COVID-19 as the need for electives normalized and there was greater awareness of health issues. ASG’s Dr. Singhvi, which seeks to partner or buy out the top 2-3 eye care practices in each micro-market, has actually seen its growth triple from pre-COVID-19 levels by 15 to 20%.
The company has raised funds for its partnership model and is considering 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. As the company seeks to institutionalize the practice of the doctors it acquires, there is still concern about how it maintains quality, especially in a service as delicate as eye care.
Finally, the company believes there will be more fundraising and consolidation in the industry and that an IPO will be a journey it is considering, eventually expanding into Southeast Asia. And while they have made inroads into northern and central India, their eyes are now set on expanding into the south.