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Here’s How You Take Dry Eye Treatment to a Whole New Level

Just treating dry eye doesn’t make you a specialist, so this Virginia practice decided to go above and beyond.

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The team at EVEA’s MedSpa discusses makeup, face creams, lashes, previous aesthetic procedures, nutrition, and many other things with patients.

The team at EVEA’s MedSpa discusses makeup, face creams, lashes, previous aesthetic procedures, nutrition, and many other things with patients.

DR. SHANE SWATTS and his wife — Dr. Leah Ramos — established Eastern Virginia Eye Associates (EVEA) in 2003. Through 2019 they were a traditional medically-based primary care practice. “We considered ourselves to be a ‘dry eye practice,’” says Swatts. “But we were doing the same things that all other practices were doing. The fact was, we weren’t ‘specialists,’ we were just seeing a lot of dry eye patients.” So they decided to change that and the MedSpa was born.

THE IDEA

“We felt that even with some of our most ‘advanced’ treatments, we weren’t truly getting to the source of the problem, the root cause,” he states. “Our toolbox was full of tools, just not the tools we needed.” So in early 2021, they brought in IPL, which “truly gave us a different perspective on ocular surface disease as a whole.” Bringing in IPL came with an unexpected boon; it wasn’t enough to understand the eyes, now Swatts and Ramos needed to understand and study the skin. “We were surprised to find that patients began noticing improvements not only in their dry eyes, but in the appearance of their skin,” he says. “The move into aesthetics was seamless. We quickly learned that aesthetics involves not only providing treatments to improve skin appearance but, as important, also involved educating our patients.”

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THE EXECUTION

Of EVEA’s nine total lanes, three are on a separate side of the office, as well as a separate dry eye testing area. One room serves as an evaluation room with all the tools needed to perform a dry eye evaluation, while the other two rooms are treatment rooms. They are designed to be relaxing spaces with spa chairs, with one dedicated to IPL and the other housing their NuEra Radiofrequency and other procedures like LipiFlow, iLux, ZEST, HydraFacials, and more. “On a normal day in our MedSpa, we are discussing makeup, face creams, lashes, previous aesthetic procedures, nutrition, and many other things with our patients that are essential in developing a treatment plan,” explains Swatts.

Here’s How You Take Dry Eye Treatment to a Whole New Level

“We are in the process of hiring a medical director and PA injector so we can offer additional services,” he adds. “Initially we had no plan to do so, but once the conversation around aesthetics enters the picture, we find that demand is coming from the patients. Patients routinely ask if we also provide other services — Botox, dermal fillers, dermaplaning, etc. — and while we currently do not, we would like to be able to provide our patients this option. While our primary focus will remain on ocular surface disease, we will have other professional staff whose focus is aesthetics.”

THE REWARDS

The MedSpa schedule is separate from their primary care schedule to allow more time with each patient during the evaluation process. Dr. Swatts and his wife now solely see patients in the MedSpa on alternate patient care days — along with two spa technicians — which allows them to be active in the management and growth of their primary care and optical services. “Through … smart planning, we have been able to step away from the daily routine of patient care and concentrate on not only specialty care, but also [growing] the practice,” says Swatts.

And the primary care side of the business is a major source of patient referrals to the MedSpa. “Although a large percentage of our patients are referred by our primary care ODs, as the MedSpa has grown, we now receive many referrals from patients who have been through the process, local ophthalmology offices, as well as local dermatologists and aesthetic centers,” shares Swatts.

Do It Yourself: Specialize in Ocular Aesthetics

  • EDUCATE YOURSELF. Go beyond eyecare to learn about the impact that nutrition, skin conditions, makeup and cosmetics can have on eye health and appearance.
  • LISTEN… to your patients and their concerns. “When they mention bags or dark circles under their eyes, they are asking you for help,” says Swatts
  • FIND SYNERGIES. Use products that align with your mission. EVEA MedSpa offers nutraceuticals and Eyes are The Story, a science-based cosmetic company offering products safe for dry, sensitive eyes.
  • PACKAGE IT. Every patient treated at the MedSpa also purchases nutraceuticals, artificial tears, a heat mask, eye-cleansing products and a “rejuvenation kit” from a skin care line used in the office.
  • KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Abide by the laws as set forth by your state’s Board of Optometry. “In our state, [ODs] are not allowed to break skin or inject for aesthetic purposes,” clarifies Swatts.
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