The guardian of sight and sound - Mihira Wickramarachchi
The establishment of Wickramarachchi Opticians was to serve a social purpose for many Sri Lankans who were visually or hearing impaired.
The founder of Wickramarachchi Opticians, Mihira Wickramarachchi, has had a celebrated presence of over 40 years in the healthcare industry of Sri Lanka. Personally, he never viewed his business as a money-making machine. Only a handful of business personalities can claim that they have contributed to uplift the well-being of human lives which have suffered from dysfunctional organs. As you will read on to find out, Mr Mihira still remains as a prime example of this rare breed of entrepreneur.
After 4 decades of being in the industry, where do you stand?
I am more than proud to say that we have been responsible for conducting easily over 1000 implants for totally deaf children and adults. The technology is now present in Sri Lanka for these miracles where the loss of a critical bodily sense can be restored. As we only bring down the best brands including Siemens and Zeiss, these products do not need testing, they are already verified. This has resulted in us becoming the number one in Asia as cochlear implant surgery partners.
How does a cochlear implant differ from a hearing aid?
A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sounds so they may be detected by damaged ears. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognizes the signals as sound.
Tell us about some new technologies present to assist the visually impaired
I have recently introduced a revolutionary device known as OrCam to the Sri Lankan market to assist those who cannot see. OrCam is an advanced wearable device that uses artificial intelligence to increase independence for people who are blind, visually impaired or have reading difficulties. The device instantly reads text, recognizes faces, identifies products and more.
You have also been known for introducing luxury brands to the local market, please elaborate
I was the first in the country to officially import luxury brands such as Prada and Bulgari. In the beginning, they were reluctant to export to Sri Lanka as we were a small market. However, the market should not be underestimated. The mindset of consumer has changed; they understand that investing in quality eyewear is important as spectacles are worn every day. They must last long and provide a comfortable experience for the wearer.
What is your secret to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Try to maintain the idea that you are doing something not for yourself, but for mankind. Your business should always have a positive cause behind it so that people from all walks of life can benefit from your venture. Step out of the box, do things that no one has ever done. Finally, always rely on and be an advocate for technology.