Dr. Tommasina Sideris, OD,
owner of Eyes On Litchfield.
LITCHFIELD, Conn.—Dr. Tommasina Sideris, OD, recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her optometric practice, Eyes On Litchfield. With over 19 years of experience as a business owner in Michigan, this transplanted optometrist originally moved to the Northeast to get married, but used the opportunity to open what has become the practice of her dreams.

 To thank the community for a year of support, Dr. Sideris threw a party complete with cake, grilled hot dogs, '50s music, giveaways and gift bags for attendees. But Dr. Sideris’ “go all out” attitude doesn’t just come in handy when she’s planning a party—it was also a vital ingredient for opening Eyes On Litchfield. Successfully juggling time as a wife and mother while running a practice can be a challenge, but after one year of trials and triumphs, Dr. Sideris seems to have come out on top.

Of course, opening up a practice from scratch has its own set of obstacles, which Dr. Sideris knows all too well. Her first-ever practice in Michigan, Harrisville Eye Care, is what she calls her “school of hard knocks”—she opened it just one year out of optometry school, but had zero business acumen and was dealing with a dishonest employee. However, since then she has owned several other Michigan practices and mastered the ins and outs of the business.

In 2013, Dr. Sideris moved the historically rich town of Litchfield to get married and began working part-time for other optometrists so that she could focus on getting her son situated in a new school and enjoy being a newlywed. However, having been her own boss in previous years with her Michigan practices, she found it difficult being an employee and was inspired to open up her dream practice.

The yellow storefront of Eyes On Litchfield
welcomes customers with a bright
orange pair of decorative spectacles.
In the past, Dr. Sideris admits, she had found it hard to enjoy her career. “In Michigan, because it was my first time, I was doing things that I thought you were supposed to do, because all the other optometrists I knew were doing it—like accepting every vision plan under the sun,” explained Dr. Sideris. “I started to hate our profession, so I needed to step back to see what was taking the fun out of it. That’s when I realized when I wasn’t getting reimbursed for what I am worth. I also wanted an office that reflected the creative side of me, instead of a typical, serious doctor’s office.”

When she decided to open up a new practice in Litchfield, Dr. Sideris was determined find a way to build a business that both she and her community would love.

“I took an honest look at what would be an ideal scene for me and decided to create something that would allow me to still have time to be a good wife, an awesome mom, a ‘kick**s’ optometrist and a business owner, which allows me to help my community and contribute to humanitarian causes,” said Dr. Sideris.

She made this dream a reality with Eyes On Litchfield, which is conveniently located near her husband’s dental practice and her son’s school and gives her the opportunity to see both of them throughout the day. She also achieved her goal of creating a stylish space for her customers to enjoy.

“I love, love, love the fashion aspect of our industry, so I wanted that to be reflected in our office,” she remarked.

Tired of plainly decorated offices, Dr. Sideris created
a visually appealing space for her customers
that brings in elements of a retro fifties diner.
Dr. Sideris certainly seems to have tapped into her creative side; Eyes On Litchfield feels more like a trendy optical boutique than an eyecare practice, complete with a dispensing table made from a retro '50s diner table and a front desk that looks like an ice cream parlor. With an eye for fashion and a love of eyewear, Dr. Sideris makes sure to carry well-known brands such as Tom Ford, Vera Wang, and Zac Posen, but also loves offering unique brands such as Velvet Eyewear, OWP and Metropolitan. She also recently began selling a private line called The Litchfield Collection, which is handmade in Germany.

One of the biggest differences at Dr. Sideris’ new practice is that she decided that she will no longer accept vision plans, since she felt like she wasn’t being appropriately reimbursed at her Michigan practices.

“We do lose some patients who need to go where their plans are accepted, but the majority of potential patients we talk with are tired of being treated like a number,” said Dr. Sideris. “They understand the value of paying to be treated right and leaving with a great pair of eyeglasses they can see well with and feel good in.”

The one-year celebration included this delicious
spread, as well as grilled hot dogs outside,
fifties music and several door prizes.
Like any new business, Eyes On Litchfield faced a few challenges in its first year, such as finding a software package that fits the needs of the office without breaking the bank, which is still a work in progress, and advertising the new practice throughout the community. 

“Starting from scratch, no one really knows you even exist,” remarked Dr. Sideris. “So, the first challenge was getting myself known and letting people know what we had to offer.”

Luckily for Dr. Sideris, there were already some individuals who were willing to go out of their way to visit Eyes On Litchfield. “One of my favorite moments was when a Yale physician came to see me,” Dr. Sideris explained. “When I asked why he drove such a long distance when there were so many good doctors near him, he replied that when he saw one of my aesthetic ads, he felt compelled to Google us and just knew he would get the ‘human experience.’ Another physician, who I had seen years ago when I was filling in at another location, found me because I had given him one of the best eye exams he’s ever had and he wanted to support my new practice.”

In addition to aesthetic ads and word-of-mouth, Dr. Sideris and her team sent out postcards around the area and kept active social media pages for Eyes On Litchfield in order to raise awareness about the brand new practice. Their Facebook and Instagram pages, constantly being updated with pictures of patients and staff, even caught the attention of two local bloggers who ended up featuring Eyes On Litchfield on their website.

So far, Dr. Sideris’ commitment to quality care seems to have paid off—she’s received plenty of stellar online reviews from people who appreciate her customer service and enthusiasm.

“I wanted a practice that I loved going to everyday,” she concluded. “Mission accomplished.”