In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Dr. Larry Spitzberg, OD, PhD., ’85 found that Ulysses, his friendly puppy got so attached to him that he started bringing him to his office. Today, Ulysses, a toy museum and Western paintings are unique aspects of his practice. Here is Dr. Spitzberg’s take on optometry:
I had trauma to my right eye at the age of six and lost some sight in that eye. I had eye surgery, contact lenses and binocular vision therapy to bring the vision back. This led to my interest in optics leading to masters and doctorate degrees in optics and physics. Optometry was a natural profession for me. I was able to combine business, research and helping others all in that one profession which I have enormously enjoyed for 33 years. I have had mentors and great colleagues such as Dr. Randall Jose, Dr. Jerald Strickland and the late Dr. Jerome Rosner along the way which has made each step enjoyable and rewarding.
We have been named the #1 Optometry practice in Houston for a few years and we are proud of that designation and work hard to keep it that way. We strive from the front door entrance to the exam room to the glasses and contact lens areas to make the experience enjoyable and a little bit of a down home environment with a little learning thrown in. The more that we can learn about our patients in a friendly way, the more that we can help them see better and make the experience better. My specialty of Low Vision Rehabilitation, though only a small part of my Primary Care Practice, has allowed me to uniquely help patients see better when they have given up on many daily activities such as reading and driving.
The toy museum at the office came about when my interest in buying antique toys outgrew the house and the office needed to expand any way. Now when I turn on the 3.5 foot diameter handmade working carousel with lights and music or the FAO Swartz 5 foot high Steiff diorama, the kid in all of us starts to smile.
Ulysses is fairly new to the practice. He used to stay at home before Harvey as both my wife and myself work but after Harvey he became attached to me 24/7. He is a good boy and now a service dog. What better homey environment than a friendly puppy that doesn’t shed. He is perfect towards everyone but 3 year old boys who think that he is one of the toys!
We live in Houston which is part of the old wild West and our patients can experience part of the Western culture when they come to the office. The custom made Western sculptures dominate the waiting room. My hobby of painting and my fun of attending the small rodeos around Houston allowed me to paint large backdrops for the sculptures and the spurs, hat, boots and saddle are also on view.
Practice to the highest level you can. Do loads of medical but don’t forget the optical basics. Buy an OCT.
Work with a colleague. Practices are combining together to achieve economies of scale.
There are no more white hats and black hats in optometry. Corporate or independent optometry are all the same if you do your best work.
Do the specialty that interests you. Follow your heart with help from your head.
Optometric success takes a whole village of non-optometric helpers including experts in insurance, IT, accounting, QuickBooks, ADP, and bankers and lawyers.
Treat every patient with respect. Follow the Golden Rule. The worst cases always happen at 5pm on Fridays; be prepared to stay late for them.