DALLAS—Essilor of America (EOA) announced today that is has made an investment in Opti-Port, a U.S alliance of leading, multi-office eyecare providers. Details of the transaction, which closed April 1, were not disclosed.

EOA said in a statement that “this acquisition will continue to strengthen the independent eyecare profession in the United States by accelerating key programs designed to deliver a stronger patient experience.” The move follows Essilor’s recent acquisition of three other independent eyecare groups: Vision Source in July, 2015, Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative (PERC) and Infinity Vision Alliance (IVA) in November, 2015.

“We felt like with all the changes in the industry we wanted to have a strategic investment partner,” Jim Edwards, president and CEO of Opti-Port, told VMail. “We want to continue to be an independent operation, and continue to grow and get good products and services. We think Essilor is a good fit because they can help us with our mission as well as help on the long-term horizon.”

Opti-Port, based in St. Louis, Mo. consists of 33 separate members that represent over 400 offices throughout the country. Founded in 2001, Opti-Port supports its members with group purchasing, web technology, education and training, and marketing programs. It developed CLX, a leading cloud-based, contact lens ordering, management and marketing system.

Daniel Liberman, EOA’s senior vice president, strategic initiatives said Opti-Port is a good fit with Vision Source, Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative (PERC) and Infinity Vision Alliance (IVA).

“The focus of Opti-Port is multi-office practices ranging from four to 50 locations. Many PERC/IVA and Vision Source members are also multi-office practices. We see this as complementary,” Liberman told VMail.

Vision Source is the largest independent optometric organization in the U.S., with 3,262 locations and 4,071 members. PERC has 1,745 locations representing approximately 3,141 doctors and 13,960 employees in all 50 states. IVA has 760 locations representing approximately 912 doctors and 2,280 employees.

Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, senior vice president, EOA, said Essilor’s involvement in the independent eyecare sector is about “choice, innovation and partners. Opti-Port delivers some interesting diversity to this mix. By aggregating ECPs, we see some real advantages for patients, practitioners and Essilor.”

Matt Matthews, president and CEO of Crown Vision Center in St. Louis, Mo., an original Opti-Port member, said, "I've been able to see this organization grow from 10 to more than 30 members today, as a result of the services we’ve developed and provided. I’m pleased to know that as a result of the strategic partnership we’ve entered in to with Essilor, those services will now be offered to a much larger audience, which will in turn only benefit our industry and the patients we serve.”