When patients step inside Allure Eyecare, they may get the feeling that they’re no longer in Bloomington, Indiana. The leafy Martinique wallpaper, made famous at the Beverly Hills Hotel, displayed behind the front desk coupled with gold accents and green velvet seating through the space creates an atmosphere that’s tropical, warm and inviting. The boho chic vibe is just what Diana Christensen, OD, had in mind as she envisioned the space. “My whole niche is dry eye and moisture, and it has that feeling that you walked into a different place. It’s not your typical eye exam,” she says.
The journey to opening the doors to Allure Eyecare in April 2022 began a few years earlier. Dr. Christensen had been working in a private practice that was sold, and that tipping point pushed her forward to take on practice ownership. She spent two years working nearly an hour away, outside of her non-compete range, while she researched and planned for opening her primary care and dry eye treatment destination.
FORMER GYM BECOMES EYE CARE RETREAT
Dr. Christensen officially began her search for a location in 2021: a space that would be large enough for traditional optometric services plus specialty dry eye. After viewing a few locations with her realtor, she selected a 2,200 square feet space in April 2021. “I had already been approved for my loan and build out, so I had a number in my head already that worked out well,” she says. By August 2021, the leasing paperwork was finalized.
She’s grateful for the expertise from the teams at iCare Advisors and Karina K Designs, who guided her through the process and brought to life her vision for the style of the office. The space had previously been a gym, so the open concept was a great starting point for the build out, she says. There’s a square layout to maximize efficiency and flow with the optical in front, the clinic hallway to the left with a tech area, contact lens space and three exam rooms for primary care. The back of the office is a lab, breakroom and bathrooms, and up the right-side hallway is home to the spa room for specialty care.
Dr. Christensen invested in several must-have pieces of technology from the start, including Optos technology as well as automated Marco TRS refracting systems for the seamless experience and less back strain.
On the dry eye side, Dr. Christensen added the iCare tonometer and an autophoropter to a Phoenix meibomian gland imaging software, which has proven to have a wow factor. “It really helps patients see what’s going on with their eyes and how the problem impacts the whole structure and how it’s functioning, she says. “The dry eye treatment message is easier to receive when you can see that something is going on.”
Both Dr. Christensen and Tessa Shaw, her licensed esthetician, are also certified in using Lumenis OptiLIGHT IPL, which allows them to provide dry eye treatment as well as treat rosacea, issues with pigmentation and more. The technology could also allow them to tap into other areas of treatment such as hair removal. Allure Eyecare is the only practice in the area, aside from the optometry school, that has this FDA-approved technology.
Dr. Christensen is monitoring how the business evolves to determine how she will use her third exam lane: it could be space for another doctor or new technology. For now, she’s designated it as an OptiLIGHT space. “We will see how it grows,” she says.
RECONNECTING IN HER COMMUNITY
Allure Eyecare opened in April 2022 with a warm start, as Dr. Christensen describes it. There were certainly many elements of a cold start from scratch, yet she had grown a network working at a local Sam’s Club after her 2008 graduation from Indiana University School of Optometry through 2016 and her last place of employment in a private practice. They celebrated with a grand opening in August 2022. The team now includes Shaw plus two opticians, a receptionist, technician and virtual assistant.
She appreciates the support from the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and her growing patient base. “We’ve had amazing support, and everyone is wonderful, helpful and considerate as we learn and reinvent the wheel in this new practice concept.”
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