Treehouse Eyes works to slow down myopia progression in children, not merely correct it.
During the 22 years that Gary Gerber practiced optometry in Westwood, NJ, he often used orthokeratology to treat young patients with myopia. The results intrigued him: kids weren’t becoming as nearsighted as he thought they would.
Fast forward to last August when Gerber, along with former Novartis executive Matt Oerding, opened Treehouse Eyes, a vision care practice that exclusively treats children with myopia at two locations in the Washington, DC, area: Bethesda, MD, and Tysons Corner, VA.
Treehouse Eyes does not sell glasses. Through the Treehouse Vision System, young patients receive customized treatment based on several factors, including family history and race. Treatment options vary from soft multifocal contact lenses, overnight RGP lenses and atropine. Patients are usually treated until their eyes mature, usually in their early 20s. And the younger they come in for treatment, the better the treatment works, according to Gerber.
The traditional method of using glasses to correct myopia “isn’t bad or wrong,” Gerber explained. “People have to function and see,” he said. “We don’t erase myopia-we stop it from getting worse.”
Oerding, who had previously worked in various marketing, strategy and general management roles at CIBA Vision and Alcon Vision Care Business, said while he had been focused on the product side of vision care, he learned “the real need is on the delivery side. Myopia control requires clinical and commercial expertise and a dedicated focus to do it the right way, which is difficult for optometrists and ophthalmologists in traditional practices.”
Both Gerber and Oerding said the key is educating parents that left untreated, myopia can cause significant complications such as glaucoma or retinal detachment. Gerber said patients who correct myopia with laser vision correction are still at risk for complications.
Treehouse Eyes intends to open 20 locations in the next two years that will be either company-owned or through franchising and licensing opportunities, Oerding said: “Like orthodontists did with braces many years ago, we are creating a new category.”
Treehouse Eyes, 240.297.1017 (MD); 703.991.2766 (VA), TreehouseEyes.com.