Announcement from IRIS The Visual Group

IRIS The Visual Group is deeply saddened to announce the sudden and tragic passing of our Founder, President, and Visionary Leader, Dr. Francis Jean.

He is survived by his beloved family: wife Denise; son Jonathan; son Guillaume; daughter Marilanie; mother Laurette Savard; father Roland Jean; and brother Remi Jean.

Francis Jean was an exceptional leader; with a big heart and an unwavering passion for life and for helping others, he built IRIS the Visual group based on the core values of Passion, Honesty, and Respect. From his first Optometry practice in his hometown of Baie-Comeau, Quebec in 1986 he lead IRIS to become the most important, branded group of Optometrists, Opticians, and Ophthalmologists in Canada. As an effective mentor, he developed talented leadership throughout the organization to ensure his legacy would continue.

Throughout his career Dr. Jean worked tirelessly to improve the standards of vision care in Canada. As a business leader he created a culture at IRIS that was constantly improving the delivery of products and services to customers. As a leader in optometry, he collaborated with professional associations, colleges, and co-founded the Canadian Coalition of Eye Care Professionals (CCE-Pro). His goal always being to elevate the perceived value of eye care and the eye care industry in society.

“Losing our Visionary Leader so suddenly has been shocking news,” says Executive Vice President Dr. Daryan Angle. “He was greatly loved. We can only take some solace in that he passed away doing something he loved for someone he loved — cycling to find a cure for cancer in honour of his brother Remi.”

Dr. Jean passed away in Jasper, AB while cycling in the IRIS Challenge, a charity ride to raise money for Cancer Research. Funeral arrangements are being made in his hometown of Baie-Comeau, Quebec.

Counselling services have been provided to all IRIS employees in this difficult time. IRIS will continue operating under the strong and experienced leadership of its 8 Vice Presidents.

Reaction from Industry

“The OAC is saddened by the sudden passing of a true pioneer of the Optical industry. Our thought’s are with his family and friends,” said Robert Dalton Executive Director of the Opticians Association of Canada. “Francis Jean’s commitment to collaborative care practice was a catalyst for Provincial legislative changes allowing closer working relationships between eye care professionals. The loss of such an impactful leader will be felt deeply within the industry.”

After graduating from McGill University with a bachelor in Neurophysiology, he studied Optometry at the University of Montreal. Dr. Francis Jean, optometrist and President of IRIS The Visual Group had always dreamed of creating the largest network of optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists in Canada. He opened his first practice in 1986, in Baie-Comeau, QC. In 2000, he moved to Langley, BC where he expanded the IRIS Network. IRIS now has over 165 stores across Canada.

Dr. Jean is a man who embraces challenge, after his brother Remi was diagnosed with cancer he looked for a way to spend more time with him and devote his energy to support a major fundraiser. That’s when he decided to create the IRIS Challenge; bike rides to raise money for Cancer research. In 2011, Dr. Jean, his brother and a friend, Gérald Carrier, rode their bikes from Vancouver, BC to Baie-Comeau, QC. A total of 6000 kilometers, and $120 000 raised for cancer research!

Francis Jean talks about why the Iris Challenge was so close to his heart.

A History of Iris

The story of IRIS The Visual Group began in 1986 when Dr. Francis Jean opened his first Optometry practice in his hometown of Baie-Comeau, Quebec. Dr. Francis Jean then founded a buying group, engaging several like-minded Optometrists that adopted the IRIS trademark in 1990. Since 1990, IRIS has established itself as the most important branded group of Optometrists, Opticians and Ophthalmologists dedicated to improving the vision health standards of Canadians.

IRIS acquired the largest optical retailer in Western Canada, Fort Optical, in 2000. This move nearly doubled the size of the IRIS network and initiated exciting changes for Optometrists in the West. IRIS introduced the concept of collaborative eyecare, bringing Optometrists, Opticians and Ophthalmologists together under one brand. The presence of IRIS in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario provoked important changes regarding the legislation pertaining to the profession of optometry. By breaking down barriers within the optical industry in Canada, a huge opportunity was created for young optometrists to develop business partnerships, working alongside skilled professionals from the industry.

Over the last 25 years, IRIS the Visual Group has become the largest network of eye care professionals in Canada. Thanks to a distinctive concept and commitment to highest quality products and services, IRIS has managed to differentiate itself in the eyecare industry.

More details coming…..