An ever-growing city, an unheard of optometric model and doctors who want to make a difference–this is the formula for Heywear. Lilan Le, OD, serves as head of optometric operations at Heywear in Manhattan. “Heywear found me,” she laughs. “It was a perfect match–there’s so much integrity. Everyone wants to improve patient’s lives.”
Dr. Le says, “Our goal is to change the narrative of how peoplebuy eyeglasses. At Heywear, you walk in, can get a vision and ocular health screening, buy eyeglasses and leave with prescription lenses in 30 minutes or less.” Heywear’s target patient base is mostly comprised of busy professionals who want eyewear but see price or a time commitment as barriers. It’s a walk-in model, and all the complete pairs of single-vision eyewear at the optical are priced between $50 and $125, including the prescription. People can opt for sunwear for an additional $25. “Nothing is skimped on at all,” she says. The frames are a quality you feel proud to wear,” Dr. Le says. The frames and lenses are made for Heywear exclusively in New York.
“We want our clients to be able to focus on the fashion and fun of having eyeglasses, not the convolutedness of getting a pair and finding out it costs three times as much as you thought,” she says. “The whole model is based on the idea of ‘let’s make it fun. Come in on a lunch break or a vacation in New York and replace your eyeglasses without waiting two weeks.’”
The future looks bright for Heywear–which opened its first store in Manhattan but hopes to one day be within one hour of everyone in the U.S.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
It’s not just the frames that are affordable, though. The in-house screenings are priced at $50, but Dr. Le says the comprehensive testing doesn’t cut corners. It’s affordable because it’s built on using ancillary staff and technology to accommodate volume. Extensive testing, OCTs and photos go into a patient’s record. “We get lots of people who have never had an eye exam before. We can help a lot of people in that way,” says Dr. Le.
The attention-grabbing, highly enticing practice model speaks to a lot of patients, but Dr. Le says that while it will appeal to certain patients, she doesn’t anticipate that longstanding patients of other practices are going to jump to Heywear. When asked about competition with private practice optometry, she says, “We’ve been having lots of referrals back and forth. We only do single vision lenses, but we offer same day service. But when our patients need contacts or have ocular issues, we’ll send them to a colleague.”
According to Dr. Le, the model is distinctly different from the traditional private practice model. “In our model, we are focused primarily on making eyeglasses,” she says. On the other hand, with the thorough exam, patients walk away with their medical record and knowledge of any threats or signs of disease. “If we suspect [the patient] needs further treatment, we refer out,” she says.
WIZARDRY: THE OD BEHIND THE CURTAIN
When patients walk into Heywear, they may not be aware of the elaborate software and technology that has gone into streamlining the process. First, the patient is greeted by a studio associate who walks them into the showroom floor and takes measurements. After the measurements are taken, patients fill out their paperwork on their phone through a link texted to them. Then they are taken downstairs with a technician who takes their medical history and performs their refraction. Those results are sent upstairs to where lenses are cut for the frames chosen by the patient. While the eyewear is being finished, the technician performs testing and takes OCT and anterior segment photography. All the data is sent to an in-house optometrist for approval. (Currently the ODs are on site, but the goal going forward is to have ODs work remotely.) The patient has access to the reports, which can also be sent to another provider for follow-up, if necessary. The staff also preappoint local patients for their next annual exam, where the following year’s photos and testing results can be compared to the first exam. We’re hoping to catch any changes in their eyes earlier,” she says. The last step at Heywear is to pick up the complete frames – and the entire process takes 30 minutes.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
The Heywear model has proven to be a perfect fit for Dr. Le. “I’m in awe at how amazing the team is—everyone is at the top of their game,” she says. “We’re trying to create something unique and efficient. I’m grateful to be a part of this company.”