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Hear All About Why Dr. V. created NOVA Optique + Eyecare!

Nova Optique Arlington VA

Hear All About Why Dr. V. Created
NOVA Optique + Eyecare!

Dr. Sara Varghai was recently featured in an article by Canvas Rebel.


We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Dr. Sara Varghai. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Sara below.

Dr. Varghai, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?

I’m passionate about helping my patients see and feel their best by providing thorough eye exams, and making sure each patient is educated on the health of their eyes and how to best prevent ocular diseases. I also would like to make sure all my patients select a pair of glasses that they feel happy and confident wearing.

My passion grew stronger after having practiced in different modalities, such as hospital, private practice, and retail. I noticed that in each of those settings something was missing. Many patients go to hospitals for cutting edge technology, but usually the visit is rushed. Private practices offer more personalized visits, however their frame selection might be lacking the latest styles. Retail opticals may have great frame styles, however the exam can feel rushed, and the patients may need to be referred out to a specialist because the office does not have the proper equipment. I realized that there was something missing in our industry. There wasn’t a particular place where a patient could find all their eye care needs. I set out to create that space and more. I wanted a warm and welcoming place where patients would enjoy coming to, but knew they would still get the best care and find a style of frames for them. One of the best complements I’ve gotten from a patient is, “This feels like a spa!”

Dr. Varghai, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?

I love helping others, so healthcare was a natural path for me. But I also love fashion. Optometry was something that brought those two things together. Many people come to me to help them see better, or help alleviate their dry eye symptoms, which is great to be able to solve those problems for patients. But the most rewarding encounters are the ones when the patient may not even know there is a problem and I can help save their vision or their life with an incidental finding during a routine comprehensive exam. To be able to add on fashion to this position is a true joy.

My main goal in starting this practice was to create a place with these three core values: quality care and quality products, with stellar customer service. Since the health of our patients’ eyes are of utmost importance to us, it was critical for us to have the best technology in the office. Not only do we make sure each patient gets a digital photo of the back of their eyes, but we also have equipment that other optometric offices normally would not. This helps in diagnosing conditions such as glaucoma. This allows us to be able to help as many patients in our office as possible, unless they need surgical intervention, in which case they would be referred to a surgeon.

The next step was curating a selection of eyeglass frames for the optical. This was both fun and challenging at the same time. It was important to make sure there was an option for everyone, but I wanted to stick to our core value of quality products. I made sure to bring in frames that were well-made and unique. These might not be brands that the majority of the public is familiar with, but most people are impressed with the quality of craftsmanship when they do try on the frames. We also made sure to partner with Zeiss Vision, which makes some of the best optical lenses for glasses, so not only do our patients look great in their glasses but they can see clearly as well.

Even though we make sure to give the best care and offer the best products, what really sets us apart from others in the industry is our personalized customer care. I’m a huge fan of Nordstroms and believe their success has a lot to do with how they treat their clients. I wanted to make sure I treated our patients the way they treat their customers. We do this by taking our time with each patient. They never feel rushed during the exam. I make sure to go over all the results and educate each patient on how they can best protect their eyes. I also make sure there’s enough time at the end of the exam to answer any of their questions. Once they’re ready to pick out glasses, we help them with the best option possible for their prescription and their face. We are also in constant contact with our patients if there is a delay due to the manufacturing process and letting them know when their glasses are ready. We want to make this process as easy as possible for our patients.

Knowing that patients enjoy coming here and getting their eyes examined by us (when most people don’t enjoy eye exams), is truly a great feeling. As the quote goes: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Not only is this position fulfilling, but creating the environment to do it in, makes it super enjoyable.

How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?

Going back to our three core values: quality care and quality products, with stellar customer service, I make sure we never waver from them. This may mean that we may have to get an order overnighted to make sure a patient gets their order in time, or we may have to remake a pair of glasses because someone is not happy with the frame they originally chose. We do lose out on the profit by doing this, but in the end it is about making sure that our patients are seeing well and happy with the results.

Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?

Most cold start practices take vision insurances, which helps bring in foot traffic and new patients to the practice. However vision plans tend to dictate which lenses and labs to use, so it can be very limiting in how you practice. One of the main reasons I opened my own practice was to be able to make the key decisions in the practice. By allowing an insurance company to have the final say of some of these decisions seemed like it would be defeating the purpose of opening my own practice. It was somewhat tempting at times when I would see only one patient every few days. However, I stuck to my original decision and chose not to be credentialed for any vision plans. I believe this will help our growth even though it didn’t look too promising at the beginning.

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