Inna Lazar, OD, recently celebrated four years since the cold start of her practice Greenwich Eye Care in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, in April 2017. “When I opened, I wanted to be primary care but my true focus was going to be myopia management and dry eye treatment,” she recalls. She’s been able to build her business in those segments; the latter has skyrocketed to become a top referral of patients, even more so over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have had so many kids and adults with dry eye who came in because they can no longer work. Their eyes are red, and they are in pain. They want to know what I can do.”
NEED DRIVES IMPLEMENTATION OF INSTRUMENTATION
Dr. Lazar says that these patients were frustrated that they couldn’t find relief from this discomfort. There’s a mix to more severe cases of dry eye; some patients have been to many doctors and still hadn’t addressed the root of the problem. Dr. Lazar had been considering adding Lumenis M22 Intense Pulse Light (IPL) instrumentation, and the continual cases of dry eye sufferers led her to make the purchase in October 2020.
Each addition to the office requires careful consideration: it’s just 300 square feet without an optical, so every inch is a premium. She’s moved around her diagnostic technology to make space, and Dr. Lazar says that she is so pleased that she did. “IPL can be tailored to any patient,” from less severe cases in combination with droplet therapy to patients with Sjögren’s syndrome. “When the drops aren’t helping, I’ve noticed that after the third or fourth treatment, they are so grateful that they aren’t as impacted by dry eye during the day and able to sleep through the night. It’s such an incredible technology we should all be using to treat dry eye.” There’s the research to prove its effectiveness; Dr. Lazar refers to more than 50 studies that examine dry eye treatments.
PERSONALIZED TREATMENT AND CARE
In many cases, Dr. Lazar is starting patients off with a set of three or four IPL treatments, which are given three to four weeks apart. Then, she will determine a maintenance plan with each patient—that may be every three or six months, depending on how the patient is feeling. “I will follow up in about three months to re-evaluate and to see what we want to do from there.”
The procedure visit takes about 20-30 minutes including prep, treatment and cleanup. There’s a gel to apply before and an eye shield for protection from the light. Dr. Lazar prides herself on spending this entire time with her patients. “I do all of the treatments myself from start to finish, and there is only one patient here at a time. Patients say that they enjoy that they spend their 30 minutes in the office with the doctor,” she says. “I think that differentiates my practice in the area—I invest the whole time in the patient.”
EXPANDING HER NETWORK
Dr. Lazar has developed a great referral network with local optometrists and ophthalmologists. “Everyone has their concentration on what they are good at,” she says, and that’s built trust as they all strive to provide the best care for their patients. She’s thankful for the connection with Jim Thimons, OD, FAAO. “I am good with retina, cataract and cornea, but I don’t treat glaucoma and he is the person to go to for that.” Dr. Thimons also refers to her for myopia management. “It’s been really great working with colleagues and referring back and forth. It’s not a competition; there are so many things that I don’t do and they are so much better at them.”
She’s also reaching potential patients on Instagram @dr.innalazar with her educational and engaging video Reels and posts on dry eye and myopia management. “I am using my platform to talk to the public.” She wants them to know that if their eyes are red or watery, they don’t have to rely on Visine. “You don’t have to suffer. It’s not normal,” she tells them, encouraging them to work with her to address why they are suffering. Many families and young professionals mention that they found Dr. Lazar on their Instagram Explore page. She recalls one particular teenaged patient who was cold and uninterested during his first visit. His tone had changed the second time he was there. He shared that he found her videos, and the personality shared there gained his respect. “That is how I got through to him, and if it will make him wear his lenses, I’ll take it.”
While business is booming, Dr. Lazar doesn’t have any plans to expand in terms of moving from the petite office space that she’s fallen in love with. “It’s perfect for what I do; patients get that concierge feel, and I really enjoy seeing one patient at a time.” There’s such an old-town, quaint charm to the strip of brick buildings that’s just about a mile from the Long Island Sound, and there’s a warm beach breeze that Dr. Lazar looks forward to when she’s leaving the office on a summer evening. “There’s nothing else that I would want; it’s such an amazing place.” She is, however, considering the option of opening a second location so that she expand her reach offering these services.
Read more from Dr. Lazar; she recently shared praise for two of her mentors.