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These Opticals Tickle All 5 Senses

With full sensory immersion they take customer experience to the next level.

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MANY PRACTICES ARE finding that the appointment-only restrictions necessitated by COVID-19 are a blessing in disguise, forever altering their approach to service and optical interactions. As you plan your post-COVID environment, take some inspiration from these six practices, which strive to offer patients a truly rich sensory experience.

Clear Eye Associates + Optical interior in Fort Worth, TX

Clear Eye Associates + Optical
Fort Worth, TX

Few practices can claim to focus on the senses the way Clear Eye Associates + Optical in Fort Worth, TX, does. The goal is total immersion in what owner Dr. David Moore refers to as the “Clear experience,” which engages patients through sight, sound, taste and smell. It begins from the time they book and select their arrival item — be it a cappuccino, chocolate or craft beer — and continues to the day a custom cookie arrives for them in the mail in a special Clear box. And the list of items offered to patients prior to their arrival goes beyond just drinks and sweets; even the music and scent have been selected specifically for customers. The visual aspect of the optical wasn’t left to chance, either; EyeDesigns and architect Norman Ward were able to create a modern design with Lum lighting that highlights the detail of the frames and allows customers to look their best.

Lynn Valley Optometry people in North Vancouver.

Lynn Valley Optometry
North Vancouver, British Columbia

British Columbia is known for its natural beauty and people who are committed to green lifestyles, and that’s definitely the vibe at Lynn Valley Optometry in North Vancouver. Yoga studios and a natural-foods store are steps away — and a 617-acre nature preserve is close, too. Everything evokes the spirit of healthy, holistic living, from many frames made of natural materials to the basket of cloth hand towels in the washroom. Befitting a practice that specializes in dry eye treatment, Dr. Altaz Shajani believes in offering a full-spectrum experience that eases the senses, starting with handing patients a soothing hot towel. Lynn Valley Optometry strives to be a place that people will want to visit in person, even if they start their eyewear shopping online. From fresh flowers to the tasty snacks both in the reception area and the exam room, from music and comfy leather seating to the essential oils used throughout the practice, everything is pleasing to the senses. Patients who win the practice’s mini-games are even treated to manicures, among other things. “We’re creating an eye experience people will remember and talk about with their friends,” Shajani says.

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Julia and Anissa Laval, mother/daughter opticians of Cutting Edge Optics in Berkeley, CA

Cutting Edge Optics
Berkeley, CA

Julia and Anissa Laval, mother/daughter opticians, opened Cutting Edge Optics in Berkeley, CA in 2018 because of their passion for opticianry, but it’s sustained by the fact that, as they put it, “excellent service comes naturally to us.” Their mission was to bring something fresh to the glasses-buying experience in Berkeley. This is demonstrated in the way their optical combines the natural with the urban. When they took over the practice, “The decor was entirely white. Our aesthetic is based on a New York loft. We painted and put up a gorgeous plant wall as the focal point. It pulls in the green, sustainable and eco-friendly aspect of the neighborhood, fitting these values into our urban aesthetic. The large windows create an airy, inviting feeling.” They also play music from all over the world, including Africa and Central and South America—even a little French rap.”

makeup session with Dr. Sheena Garner of EyeBar

EyeBar
Houston, TX

At EyeBar, a concierge-style eyecare practice and eyewear boutique in Houston, TX, Dr. Sheena Garner complements her eyecare with makeup sessions (free with exam), along with lash and brow extensions, eyebrow waxing and threading, and even injections to banish crow’s feet. Homey touches include candle-wax-dripping on bottles at the fireplace and faux fur pillows on the sofa. Espresso, mimosas, wine, beer and Hershey’s kisses offer comfort kicks, and “we bake cookies so the house smells good,” says Garner. Rather than spa music — “It puts me to sleep” — she spins Norah Jones and Coldplay. In the past, EyeBar even had an after hours workout in the parking lot. “Coming here is like therapy,” says Garner. “It’s time away, and you feel special.”

coloring books and pencils at Spring Hill

Spring Hill Eyecare
Spring Hill, TN

There is much to engage the senses at Spring Hill, from the tactile delights of the timber frame boards (recycled from the 1870s farmhouse that formerly occupied the site) to the coffee bar, at which patients can fill in the adult coloring books (pencils provided) for some de-stressing. Visitors’ eyes are arrested by hundreds of curios, like century-old musical instruments and vintage board games. Ingeniously, owner Rob Szeliga, OD has incorporated some of these artefacts, and the sensory reactions they provoke, into the therapeutic experience. “Our dry eye treatment center is called The Greenhouse because there was one on the original property,” he says. “We decorated it with the rusty tools we found in the old greenhouse. You go in the room with dry eyes facing old rusty tools. When you get up from the massaging chair your view is of lush plants and flowers, so you leave refreshed.”

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interior of Invision in Christiansburg, VA

Invision
Christiansburg, VA

Raising the bar on visual stimulation is Invision in Christiansburg, VA. Co-owner Dr. Scott Mann declares, “We want to convey the intersection of art and eyewear in all that we do.”  Years ago the second-story floor was partially removed to create an atrium-like feel. A skylight, 30 feet above the ground, now showers the space with natural light. “Frames display better in a cheerful environment,” Mann says. Century-old oak floors were restored and plastic banished in favor of nickel and marble. Yellow hues (the colors’ actual names are “Sherwin Williams Cachet Cream” and “Humble Gold”) predominate. The walls are adorned with original works from local artist Jeannie O’Neill, and three metal eyeglass sculptures by local artist Dave Wertz hang outside. And while sight takes center stage, Mann works to create a pleasing environment for all the senses, bringing in fresh flowers at regular intervals and pumping a controlled lemongrass scent into the office.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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