The Group is the leading eye clinic in southeastern Europe and has been successfully employing SCHWIND AMARIS technology since 2010.
Nikica Gabric, founder and owner of Svjetlost, firmly believes that a surgeon should have LASIK surgery – if needed – to better understand what it feels like for a patient. That is why he had his myopic astigmatism corrected in 2005. Overall, more than 40 employees of Svjetlost have undergone LASIK or refractive lens exchange. This makes a huge difference to patients because it generates trust in the clinic and technology. “Undergoing refractive surgery is not mandatory for employees with visual deficiencies, but if they have worked for Svjetlost for a while and have seen the amazing visual outcomes of treated patients, they usually decide to undergo a refractive treatment themselves”, says Maja Bohac, Head of refractive surgery at Svjetlost since 2007. This service is offered at no cost to all employees and their close relatives.
The Svjetlost group started formally in 1998 – in an apartment with a single excimer laser and, besides Prof. Gabric, just one other ophthalmologist and two nurses completing the team. Svjetlost was the first clinic to offer laser vision correction in Croatia and was a pioneer of same-day cataract surgery care. Now two decades later, the Svjetlost group has seven clinics in five different countries (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and the Republic of North Macedonia). The group is the only chain of ophthalmic clinics in southeastern Europe and performs all ophthalmic procedures.
Center of Excellence for education and scientific work
Sophisticated marketing strategy
Svjetlos has developed a sophisticated marketing strategy to catch the attention for laser vision correction. “The approach of reaching potential laser candidates has changed during the past years”, remembers Dr. Bohac.
At the beginning, word of mouth, i.e. recommendations from satisfied patients, had the highest priority. In the first years of the 21st century, Svjetlost put additional emphasis on print media and television with the aim of boosting its patient volume. Later, they were pioneers in southeastern Europe using digital media in refractive surgery. “Today the brand has been built around the message that refractive surgery results in more quality of life for people with visual deficiencies. Svjetlost is promoted as a leader in refractive surgery and customer service. We continuously pursue the goal of not only performing as the best quality provider in our region, but to be amongst the best refractive clinics in the world”, says Dr. Bohac.
The fees for laser vision correction are very similar across all centres. Nevertheless, the offering structure of the Svjetlost group corresponds to the purchasing power of each market. For example, FemtoLASIK is the procedure predominantly used in Croatia, which, as an EU member, generates a higher average income per person than other markets in southeastern Europe.
The classic PRK treatment represents the basic economic service level in all Svjetlost clinics, followed by TransPRK. FemtoLASIK and LASIK are at the higher end of the price structure. Treatments can be upgraded to customised procedures using corneal or ocular wavefront. SmartSurfACE is promoted as Advanced Surface Ablation including customized profiles for treatment of Higher Order Aberrations and a specially derived medical methodology for less discomfort and regression management.
51 % market share in Croatia
“On average, we perform around 5,500 refractive procedures each year. Of these, more than 3,000 laser vision corrections take place in Svjetlost clinics in Croatia using solely SCHWIND AMARIS technology: 85% are performed as FemtoLASIK, 14 % as surface treatments and only 1 % as LASIK - creating the flap with a microkeratome”, states Dr. Bohac.
The market dominance of Svjetlost is also reflected in the fact that in 2018 the group has recruited more patients and generated higher revenues in Croatia than the nine following competitors together. In 2019, Svjetlost impresses with a market share of 51 % in Croatia and even 80 % in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
When talking about AMARIS technology, the first thing Dr. Bohac mentions is sophisticated treatment profiles and custom ablation planning: “In our opinion, SCHWIND as a company is one of the technological leaders in refractive surgery, especially for all treatments requiring customization. This is the key to our goal of treating more irregular corneas than ever before.”