ST. LOUIS—EyeCare Partners LLC (ECP), a growing management group operating vision care practices primarily in the Midwest, reported last week that it has expanded into the Alabama ophthalmology market with the acquisition of Alabama Vision Center, a Birmingham-based ophthalmology practice. The practice is led by Price Kloess, MD, Andrew Velazquez, MD, Andrew Bartlett, MD, and Holly Young, OD, and also operates a second location in Hoover, Ala. In a separate transaction, ECP reported that it has taken its first steps into the Kentucky ophthalmology market with the acquisition of The Ophthalmology Group, a Paducah, Ky.-based practice of Mark Gillespie, MD, Landen Meeks, MD, Jeffery Taylor, MD, and Carl Baker, MD.

Terms of the transactions were not disclosed. ECP is currently comprised of more than 225 offices, with locations in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Kansas, Florida, and Georgia. The group has projected that it will reach 275 locations by the end of 2018, as VMAIL reported

Alabama Vision, for more than a decade, has been committed to serving patients in Birmingham and throughout central Alabama. Under Dr. Kloess, who was voted Birmingham Magazine’s best ophthalmologist in 2016 and 2017, the practice has expertise in Lasik surgery and the advanced surgical treatment of cataracts, glaucoma and corneal disease.

“As a leader in our community of ‘all things’ eyecare, our mission has always been to provide the best possible care to our patients,” Dr. Kloess said in the announcement. “Broadening our network by merging with Eye Care Partners makes perfect sense. This partnership will allow us to devote much more time directly to patient care, which is ultimately why we all became physicians.”

ECP chief executive officer Kelly McCrann said ECP “could not ask for a better organization with which to join forces in Alabama.”

In Kentucky, The Ophthalmology Group has been one of the most trusted full-service medical ophthalmology practices in the state with more than 50 years of service and expertise in Lasik, cataracts, eyelid surgery, glaucoma, corneal transplants and retinal treatment. “The Ophthalmology Group will be a great asset to ECP,” said Dr. Mark Owens, regional medical director for ECP in Kentucky. “The practice’s longstanding commitment to innovation and patient-focused care aligns well with ECP’s mission.”

Added Dr. Gilllespie of The Ophthalmology Group, “We are proud to announce our association with ECP, which has the goal of providing the best possible patient-oriented vision services. This partnership will allow us all to provide even better and more comprehensive eyecare and eyewear services to our region.”

ECP’s McCrann said the team at The Ophthalmology Group is “outstanding and we look forward to working closely with the practice to ensure the doctors have all the resources needed to continue to excel in the evolving ophthalmic landscape.”