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Making A Large-scale Impact

OD educates patients across the country

Dr. Collier2023 was an action-packed year for Juanita Collier, MS, OD, FCOVD. She celebrated a decade since she opened 4D Vision Gym in Cromwell, Connecticut. She was named a 2023 Women in Business Honoree in Hartford Business magazine. Dr. Collier and the practice also earned a gold Stevie Award as a Women-run Workplace of the Year.

Dr. Collier says that she appreciates the recognitions, especially those that acknowledge local businesses. “I’m originally from Cromwell and went to school here. Acknowledgments from my area have been great. I’ve been able to help so many people from my hometown and state.”

Dr. Collier enjoys the strong network she built in her community over the past 10 years. Her passion to help more individuals, beyond her office walls, launched an evolution of her business. She shared with Women In Optometry how her practice changed and grew and how her digital vision therapy (VT) program and podcast help educate consumers across the U.S.

Dr. Collier's therapy room

ADJUSTING TO THE DEMAND

At its start, 4D Vision Gym was a one-room operation in Cromwell, and by 2015, Dr. Collier had grown the office to needing eight vision therapists. This location offered vision therapy (VT) to a pediatric patient base. Children comprised about 90% of her patients in the early days.

Her practice gained more referrals for brain injury and concussion cases from local hospitals and neurologists. So she wanted to create a space where teens and adults could feel comfortable. The space in Cromwell wasn’t cutting it. In May 2018, she opened the Sports and Concussion Vision Training Center in Cheshire, Connecticut, to address that need.

Her patient demographic has continued to shift; today, it’s closer to 60 percent pediatric, and there’s a rising need to work with patients who do a lot of digital work. To help better serve her patient base, Dr. Collier made another big move in relocating her primary space to the Cheshire location. Contractors complete construction in July 2023, outfitting a new exam room, expanding team office space and building a conference room.

Celebrating the practice’s 10th anniversary: (L-R) Kelsey Duffy, operational manager; Jessica Liedke, COVT, director of vision therapy services; and Dr. Collier

DIGITAL PROGRAM CREATES RIPPLE EFFECT

Dr. Collier found a silver lining when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to adjust to working through VT with patients at their homes. “For some patients, not all, it was more effective for them to be in their space where they feel comfortable. We could help them advocate for themselves instead of coming to us to do the work. It changed how we see vision therapy altogether,” Dr. Collier says.

With 15 years of VT experience and having trained many vision therapists in her practice and other offices, Dr. Collier saw opportunity in her first digital program, 4D Built to Read. “If we train the parent instead of just giving them the exercises, they know the how and the why. They can soar with that information.” The digital training course trains parents to become “junior vision therapists” via a 12-week program with 6 modules specifically designed to aid in the appropriate  neurological development of the visual system.  Program participants have access to exercise videos through their digital member login, and Dr. Collier or her therapists can record custom video messages to address any issues. “They get one-on-one attention, and with the ball in their court and parents taking ownership, the results are phenomenal.”

GREAT RESULTS

“We developed the program because we wanted something to give patients on our waitlist to get them started.” Patients are re-evaluated after the 12 weeks of VT at home, and Dr. Collier has been wowed by the results.  “We have seen conditions like amblyopia and strabismus resolve! It’s been so successful that we now have nearly all of our patients between 6-9 years old start on this program.” The parents and patients who have found this plan to work for them have been eager to share their successes with others. “Because of that we have had a lot of clients who learned about us from other states,” Dr. Collier says, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Texas. They can start her digital program, and many opt to travel to her for an exam, as well.

The inviting website offers testimonials and questions parents can use to determine if the program will be a good fit.

The results have been so powerful, that teachers in upstate New York have trained and begun implementing 4D Built to Read concepts into their tutoring and classrooms.  Dr. Collier had the opportunity to meet with individuals from many school districts in that area to discuss how they could better serve the population together. “The teachers are learning the 4D Built to Read program to incorporate in their teaching and tutoring.”

The 4D Digital Product Line has now expanded to include 8 other virtual VT platforms and has been valuable in many other ways; from helping patients who want to continue their training after their in-office visits are complete, to facilitating local optometrists’ ability to give their patients access to VT without having to provide it themselves. 4D Built to Drive. is one powerful example of how the 4D Digital Product Line has reached more individuals.  By partnering with the local Easterseals driving rehabilitation program, Collier and her team developed the driving readiness program, 4D Built to Drive, to help those who can benefit from eye-hand and depth coordination training.  She will present at the national meeting of the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists on the importance of efficient vision and visual processing, as well as sharing the 4D Built to Drive digital program.

PODCAST ADDRESSES FAQ

Dr. Collier has also connected with individuals across the country through her podcast called ‘It Could Be Your Eyes.’ “So many patients have these strange symptoms and they don’t know what’s going on. They go to doctor after doctor, but their issues often are linked to the visual system from chronic headache, migraine, dizziness and trouble driving,” she says. “We created the podcast to help patients understand vision better to more easily advocate for themselves, so they can move in the next direction sooner.”

Each episode answers a particular question, such as What skills do I need for driving? Or Are my child’s eyes ready to read? Dr. Collier includes special guests to add new and different perspectives from a variety of professional fields.

Through 4D Built to Read and ‘It Could Be Your Eyes,’ Dr. Collier is reaching to make a grander impact in the realm of eye education and care. “We’re taking all of the difficulties that people come to us with and creating a way to treat as many people as possible,” Dr. Collier says. “We can only do so much with our hands in the office, but we can impact thousands with these programs.”

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