At In Focus: Specialty Contact Lens and Vision Solutions in Scottsdale, Arizona, patients can expect to spend up to an hour with Caitlin Morrison, OD, FAAO, FSLS. She’s designed the concierge-style office to offer thorough eye care by carefully considering the patient’s personal and family health history in combination with in-depth imaging. Her focus is specialty contact lens fits, which she became passionate about after her own struggle to have a comfortable contact lens experience.
Opening her own practice was always the plan since she started her undergraduate studies. Dr. Morrison’s parents are entrepreneurs, and their experiences inspired her. After living on the East Coast for several years—attending New England College of Optometry, completing a residency in cornea and contact lenses in New York and working at New York Eye & Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai NYC—Dr. Morrison and her husband prepared to make the move back near her hometown in Arizona.
Her market research revealed that the number of practitioners who fit specialty contact lenses had decreased in recent years in the Scottsdale area where she wanted to practice. Dr. Morrison started flying from New York to Arizona to visit potential office spaces. To immediately fill the niche, Dr. Morrison started providing eye care out of an optical space and working on the plans for her own place.
Scottsdale, a neighboring city of Phoenix, was ideal thanks to its central location and downtown with plenty of restaurants and entertainment attracting a younger crowd. There were many vacant spaces at a reasonable price but often located where she would be the only business in the building. Ultimately, she chose a property that is occupied solely by health care professionals which would bring a sense of community and safety.
The 900-square-foot space had been previously a medical office but was empty for about five years. There wasn’t much work to be done other than adding some fresh paint over the bright orange walls, relocating a few walls, adding new countertops and millwork and changing the flooring.
She modeled the space after doctors’ offices she had visited while living in New York City, and much of the inspiration came from her dermatologist’s office. It’s clean, classic and sophisticated with black, white and gold and dark wood floors. One element you won’t find in the space is an optical. It’s not an area of interest, she says, and while it’s not completely out of the question for the future, it’s not in the immediate plan.
Dr. Morrison focused her budget on important must-have technology to provide the services she had become accustomed to working in the cornea department. At the top of the list: an OCULUS Pentacam with corneal scleral profiler (CSP). In her experience, “it was the number one technology that can catch kerataconus early before it’s manifested. It maps out everything with the cornea with a light beam for front and back.” The CSP takes the shape of the sclera, and she can base her fit on the measurements. “It takes everything you learned in clinic and backs it up with technology to hopefully reduce the amount of time patients have to come back for refits.”
Dr. Morrison sent letters to 75 ophthalmologists in the area to build her referral network, looking for ways that she can help her community. She had the opportunity to connect with many of them to talk about how they can help each other. “I want them to get the impression that I’ll take really good care of their patients,” she says, adding that she provides thorough reports and keeps open communication with referring doctors. She’s also thankful to her friends and family who are spreading the word about the business, as well. “It’s good to be a part of this community.”
Doors opened to the practice in February 2020, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of businesses across the country. The opening went great, with Dr. Morrison seeing many interesting and complicated cases. She decided to temporarily close the office to keep patients healthy and is awaiting CDC and AOA recommendations on when to return to non-urgent care.
She continues to educate her potential patient base and other consumers on specialty contact lenses. “Many people don’t know these lenses exist,” and through her website and social media (find her on Instagram @eyesplain) she can provide education and make these products seem more accessible as potential patients learn more about the technology. “I’m getting the word out with more content and information to my patients for free.”