THERE is a positive outlook at Chineham Centre Opticians as it embarks on a new business venture.

Based at Chineham Shopping Centre for 34 years, the practice has become the first member of Oculus, which is a franchise that works within the business.

“Our aim is simple – to be known as the experts in contact lenses in Basingstoke,” explained Chris Cox, who has owned the independent opticians for seven years.

Norwich-based Jeff Jacobs is the founder of the Oculus Contact Centres network. He is keen to help other independent opticians focus on untapped contact lens potential within their practices and fight back against the national chains which dominate the high street and online retailers.

Delighted to have Chris on board, Jeff said he is currently in talks with another 10 independent practices around the country who he hopes will join the network.

Impressed with the busy location, Jeff said: “Chris is ideal for us because he has a great loyal community-based practice.”

Jeff added: “A lot of people believe they can’t wear contact lenses because they have been told all sorts of things, like they have dry eyes, which is nonsense.

“Modern contact lenses are like iPhones – they have developed over the years. If you ask the question to 100 spectacle wearers, ‘Do you want to wear specs?’ I’d suggest 95 per cent would say no, but they are where they are, and the alternative is contact lenses.

“And, of course, not everybody is suitable, but far more people are nowadays as technology has improved.

“I’ve been fitting contact lenses for nearly 30 years and the difference between contact lenses now and then is like dial-up phones and iPhones – and they are incredibly safe as well.”

Chris said: “Having Oculus will enable us to grow our contact lens business. I’m excited about this – I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Jeff and I’m really confident with what he's going to bring to my business.

“Until now, this side of the business has been stable. Now, being an Oculus Lens Centre will enables us to offer more and provide more sophisticated lenses.

“Jeff will be arranging for us to have staff training, ensuring that our contact lens fitters will be more knowledgeable as well as able to deal with more complicated products, so that we will offer the widest range of contact lenses and solutions than anybody else in Basingstoke.”

Coinciding with joining the franchise, the practice has had a bright new makeover.

“This has improved our look,” said a very satisfied Chris, who closed the business for two weeks while work was carried out. “Our image and presence is much stronger.”

Doing the honours in re-launching the business, now known as Chineham Centre Opticians, an Oculus Contact Lens Centre, last Friday was the Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Councillor Dan Putty.

Impressed with what he saw, Cllr Putty said: “I was pleased to meet Chris and his team with Jeff.

“I’m sure the practice will provide expert professional care for their loyal customers and new ones.

“I wore a pair of contact lenses while I was there and I thought ‘wow this is fantastic’.”