“Leap and the net will appear.”

Maria Higgins, OD, completed her doctorate at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (now Salus University). She’s been a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry since 1999 and was voted Young Optometrist of the Year for Western Pennsylvania (2003) and for Pennsylvania (2004). After 10 years owning a medical model practice in Pittsburgh, she opened what is now Unique Optique in Frederick.

“The inspiration for Unique Optique is the rose curve, a math equation that when graphed, becomes a flower,” said Higgins. “In this sense, Unique Optique encompasses science, nature and art.”

“We carry only independently owned frame lines. We’re a small business and believe in supporting only small businesses,” she added. “We have a photo booth in the optical, so patients can compare their options and go home with a souvenir. Before each patients leaves, they get a UV sensor so they know when they should wear sunglasses.”

Unique Optique also uses digital media in all forms, from a cloud-based EHR, to using HootSuite for social media postings and Facebook to educate, entertain and communicate with patients. They use MailChimp for email communications and Survey Monkey to learn about patients’ wants and needs. “One of our surveys suggested that patients wanted to be texted for appointment reminders, so we employed Demandforce,” said Higgins.

The company’s customer service is based on “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and each staff member receives a copy when hired.



“Eat well, live well and see well.”

Aleksandra Wianecka, OD, has transformed a traditional practice in Babylon, N.Y., into a holistic eyecare practice with a mission of providing “Vision for Life.” She promotes healthy living to her patients by discussing diet and nutritional supplements, and she networks with various practitioners (chiropractors, acupuncturists and nutritional counselors) in helping her patients to live healthy lifestyles. Her efforts pay off as patients live healthier lives and make enthusiastic referrals.

“If I help to make patients feel better, they recommend our practice to entire families,” Dr. Wianecka explained. She cited a recent referral: “A young mother mentioned to the nutritionist at the health food store across the street that she was concerned about her eye health and that of her children. The nutritionist referred the patient to our practice, where we got the children started early on with regular eye exams.”

Aside from word of mouth, social media and the internet drive in new patients. Dr. Wianecka signed on with a firm that does SEO and pushes Vision for Life to the top of local OD listings. Facebook likes also drive new patients.

Wianecka soon will break ground on an expansion to double the size of her practice and make room for a new associate OD whom she plans to hire. “We want our new office to really deliver a wow factor,” she said.



“When you love what you do, it’s not work, it’s fun.”

Josiah Young, OD, joined Opticare Vision Centers with three locations in the Greater Cincinnati area in 2009.

In 2012, Young also became director of marketing for the ECP Network, a national group practice organization that helps independent eyecare providers grow their business. “My involvement with the ECP Network began after getting noticed for building up our ‘virtual practice,’” said Young.

“I redesigned our site, optimizing search engine optimization and adding online contact lens ordering, virtual try-on and a blog,” he said. “I also began a push with social media. This led to our practice improving in local search rankings. Now we are consistently on the first page in Google searches for eyecare in the Cincinnati area on almost all eyecare related keywords.”

Through the ECP Network, he developed a “Digital Practice Assessment” to help grade other ECPs on their online presence and show them where to improve. “Most ECPs don’t know how to improve their online presence. They use companies that claim to build websites and improve search engine ranking and pay a hefty fee for nothing more than a website. But it doesn’t matter what your website looks like if nobody can find it. Most don’t have big advertising budgets, so finding a way to promote themselves online without breaking the bank is critical to competing in the digital landscape.”