Dr. Jeremy Ciano, OD,CARMEL, Ind.—There aren’t many parents who will open up a new business based on the whims of their children, but Dr. Jeremy Ciano, OD, did just that and is now reaping the benefits. When Dr. Ciano’s then 4-year-old son, Alex, told his dad of his dream to one day open a “kids only” optometry practice, Dr. Ciano took the idea to heart.
owner of RevolutionEYES
and Little Eye Pediatric
In July of 2013, after six years of owning his family practice, RevolutionEYES, Dr. Ciano decided to open up a second practice just for children and, using another one his son’s ideas, called it Little Eyes. Over the past four years, Dr. Ciano and his team have navigated the challenges of opening a pediatric practice and created a unique synergy between the two offices.
While some ODs choose to open a traditional second practice when they wish to expand their business, Dr. Ciano saw the benefits of owning a specialty practice instead. For Dr. Ciano, the most important things was that Little Eyes Pediatric Eye Care gave him the ability to help more children than he would at RevolutionEYES.
“Most family practices will see patients from 9 months to 99 years old, but in reality, that is a default proposition and not truly what the practice does best,” explained Dr. Ciano. “With Little Eyes, we are able to make the kids and moms feel comfortable with ‘little equipment, little chairs and little glasses,’ as my son Alex proposed. The benefits truly are in the comfortable environment we have set up for the kids and parents who want to seek out specialized eyecare services.”
With a classic Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine, bean bagAccording to Dr. Ciano, the reaction to the new children’s practice has been tremendous. The practice makes an effort to be involved with the community by sponsoring little leagues, participating in community events and donating money to the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation for every pair of glasses sold. The community seems to have responded to Little Eyes’ involvement positively.
chairs and colorful décor, the waiting room in the
new Little Eye’s location is a kid’s paradise.
“Like any small business, it took some time to grow, but now that the word is out we are booking up weeks in advance,” said Dr. Ciano.
While RevolutionEYES and Little Eyes are separate business and legal entities, they are both owned by Dr. Ciano and share some of the same doctors and staff. “We had to piece off some of our best team members from RevolutionEYES to be our anchors at Little Eyes,” explained Dr. Ciano. “That was tough from a staffing standpoint, but the two ODs there have been tremendous working tireless hours on this new roller coaster when we didn’t know where it was going each week.”
Little Eye’s new storefront offers more visibilityWhen Little Eyes first opened, Dr. Ciano chose Dr. Katherine Schuetz, OD, from his RevolutionEYES staff to spearhead the project—at first, when Little Eyes was only open a two and a half days a week, she spent part of the week as the only optometrist at Little Eyes and filled the rest of her time at RevolutionEYES.
to the public in order to attract additional patients.
A year ago, Dr. Hannah Downey, OD, was hired to work at both practices as well. Although Little Eyes is now open four days a week, Dr. Schuetz and Dr. Downey still choose to split their time between the two practices; while having the two doctors work at both practices may seem a bit redundant, Dr. Ciano insists that there are personal and professional reasons for doing so.
“Both doctors love pediatrics but also want to be stretched professionally with primary care optometry with adults,” he explained. “There are so many cool things that they can do exclusively as pediatric specialists, however, there are also a lot of other optometric skills that they would be completely abandoning if they left the primary care world. I made the decision to respect their professionalism.”
According to Dr. Ciano, having Dr. Schuetz and Dr. Downing at both practices also helps with cross referrals. “The parents fall in love with both Dr. Schuetz and Dr. Downey when they are attending to their kids, and want the same excellent care for themselves,” he said. “Having availability at RevolutionEYES allows both doctors to then care for the parents as well as the children.”
Ironically, Dr. Ciano is the only OD from RevolutionEYES who has yet to fill in at Little Eyes. “The patients are in much more capable hands with Dr. Schuetz and Dr. Downey."
(L to R) Jenny White, optician/technician; RachelThe commitment and teamwork of the staff at Little Eyes seems to have paid off—in February of this year, CooperVision, Inc. named Little Eyes one of the nation’s top ten practices, as VMail reported.
Scott, technician; Dr. Hannah Downey, OD;
Dr. Katherine Schuetz, OD; and Mary Buland,
optician celebrate being honored as one
of CooperVision’s 2017 Best Practices.
“Personally, I could not be more proud of our team—especially Dr. Katherine Schuetz for building up the practice, setting the tone for the business and, together with her team members, has made my son’s dream into a thriving reality,” commented Dr. Ciano.
Of course, opening a specialty practice and consequently narrowing clientele comes with its own set of challenges. When the practice first opened, it was very difficult to book appointments during the day.
“It was a ghost town the first few years from 9:00 to 2:30—parents simply didn’t want to take their kids out of school to come in,” noted Dr. Ciano. “Conversely, we’re like a controlled chaotic caffeine circus from 2:30 to 6:00 every night.”
Additionally, the team at Little Eyes found that half of their patients are emmetropes and don’t require any vision correction, which can be frustrating with a business model of selling corrective eyewear. Price points on frames and lenses also have to stay low because parents don’t want to spend too much on kid’s frames for that could easily be broken or lost.
Despite these logistical problems, Little Eye’s quality care brings in enough patients that they decided to expand—after moving offices, they are in a better location with more visibility to the public and have three exam lanes instead of one, allowing them to see more patients during the bustling after-school hours.
“The bottom line is that we are able to serve a need in the community and have a ton of fun doing it,” concluded Dr. Ciano. “The team has a blast every day with the kids, the kids love coming in for health care and the parents love the caring and charismatic doctors that are there to serve the children’s eyecare needs. It is a win-win-win all around.”