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    Embracing aesthetics in optometry

    The aesthetics industry is a growing market, and Derek Cunningham, OD, FAAO, and Walter Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO, say it represents an opportunity for eyecare practitioners (ECPs) to become the leading experts in ocular aesthetics.

    How big of an opportunity? Dr. Cunnigham says the dry eye market is a $2 billion market—the facial aesthetics industry is a $200 billion market. He says that other specialists such as dermatologists and plastic surgeons don’t have the tools or knowledge of the ocular anatomy to properly provide these kinds of services—but ECPs do. 

    Related: Sagging lids and conjunctiva are an OD's responsibility

    A practice grower

    Dr. Cunningham says it’s not unusual to see ODs who don’t have experience in the aesthetics realm—he didn’t either until six months ago, but now it’s a major part of his practice in Austin, TX. In his office, there is a fellowship-train oculoplastics surgeon. She also has fellowship training in facial plastics and body plastics. 

    He says that in the short time his office has offered aesthetics services, it has been a huge driver for patients.

    “I can’t scare a patient enough to get him to use his glaucoma drops consistently—and I can’t get him to pay $100 for those glaucoma drops,” he says. “But if I tell him that I can give him something to make his eyes look a little better or give him instant gratification by changing his appearance, he drops money instantly on it.”

    Still not convinced? Aesthetics is already a part of most optometry practices. Your patients choose contact lenses—and increasingly, colored contact lenses—or put great care into choosing a frame all because they want to look good.

    “We’re all intimately involved with aesthetics in some way—that’s what we do,” Dr. Cunningham says.

    Both Drs. Cunningham and Whitley offer a variety of aesthetic procedures in their practices to meet the growing and changing needs of their patients. 

    Next: Red eyes bother patients

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...


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