Optometry Podcast: How to Build An Eye Spa with Dr. Janelle Davison

Dr. Janelle Davison, Founder of Premier Dry Eye Spa and Cosmetic Eye Care

Like most good ideas in eyecare, Dr. Janelle Davison’s innovative focus on ocular aesthetics at her private practice was born from a patient suggestion.  At the end of every eye exam, Dr. Davison always asks patients if they have any other questions. She was surprised at how often the questions were related to makeup suggestions, eyelash growth, and cosmetic treatments around the eye. “Why don’t you have a place in your office to offer cosmetic services so I could get treatments done and still be under your care and supervision?” came the suggestion from a dry eye patient that she was helping to manage and find better alternatives in her cosmetic routine to reduce ocular surface irritation.

From this suggestion, Premier Dry Eye Spa and Cosmetic Eye Care was born. Dr. Davison had always considered her private practice, Brilliant Eyes Vision Center in Marietta, Georgia to be an oasis for her patients to relax and focus on personal care and relationship building.  Over the years she’s spent in private practice, she found herself gravitating towards dry eye and ocular surface disease as a specialty focus because her patients were so in need of guidance, treatment, and education. Building out an ocular aesthetics specialty felt like a natural extension to her dry eye focus.

Building an Eye Spa

For Dr. Davison, the initial decision was easy: she had the space, and she knew she had the patient interest. But how could she execute her vision?

It started with creating a true spa-like space in her clinic, apart from her patient exam rooms. She selected soothing colors for walls and furniture and outfitted the room with a real spa chair complete with built-in massage abilities. Patients at the spa are treated to diffused water with lemon or strawberries, and she uses Alexa to play calming music or even let her patients pick their own soundtracks during their treatments.

Because she is busy seeing patients in her busy private practice, Dr. Davison partnered with a licensed aesthetician a few days a week to use her space and provide services to her patients. The treatments offered were carefully selected by Dr. Davison to both meet her patients’ requests, but also respect the ocular surface.  She currently offers facials, anti-aging masks, lash growth consultations, and individual false lashes. Her patients can also purchase custom-blended makeup that she has custom made to be an organic, paraben and sulfate free option that blends tinted moisturizers and built in UV protection. In future, she’s considering expanding her services to offer radio frequency technology for eyelid tightening, microblading, and eyebrow tattooing/permanent makeup.

Premier Dry Eye Spa and Cosmetic Eye Care

The Eye Spa part of her business has grown exponentially since it was first launched and she’s found many patients now couple their annual eye exam with a visit to the eye spa afterwards. She’s even been contacted by ophthalmologists in nearby states looking to learn from her model and create something similar in their own practices. “Most of the cosmetic services my patients were seeking are around the eye, and this is something we should own.” emphasizes Dr. Davison. Patients are wanting to have these treatments done, and she feels if she knows they are going to get them at a nail spa or a hair salon anyway, it would be much better that they do them under a doctor’s supervision at her office. As a dry eye specialist, she is very aware of the potential ocular surface side effects of many cosmetic procedures. How does she balance offering cosmetic services with her dry eye specialty?

  • Every patient must first be screened for ocular surface disease, and if they have underlying dry eye syndrome it needs to be managed before any potentially compounding cosmetic procedure is performed.
  • Instead of strips of false lashes when her patients ask for lash extensions, her aesthetician only applies individual lashes to reduce exposure to harsh glues and adhesives.  They carefully educate the importance of daily cleaning of the lids and lashes (their office uses We Love Eyes), and they perform in-office lid cleansing procedures every third visit for lash extensions to help reduce chronic irritation.
  • Every patient is routinely screened for ocular surface disease and meibomian gland dysfunction before and after their cosmetic services, and Dr. Davison refers her patients to a local provider for Lipiflow when indicated.
  • When considering adding permanent makeup, a big consideration for Dr. Davison was that studies had shown eyeliner tattooing could promote meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye. That’s why if she decides to offer this service in the future it would be for eyebrows only in her clinic.

“I don’t want women to feel like that because they suffer from dry eye they have to live life in bare face [without makeup or cosmetics],” states Dr. Davison. Empowering her patients to make better decisions about their cosmetic routine, and providing them a safer place to have treatments done under her supervision seemed like the healthiest solution. Instead of pushing her patients to salons or the internet, she embraced her expertise and decided to start the conversation about what the concerns around cosmetic treatments were with dry eye syndrome, and what steps could be taken to minimize her patients’ risks.

If you are interested in contacting Dr. Davison to learn more, you can reach out to her on social media @brilliant_eyes_vision_center on Instagram or via email at dr.davison@brillianteyesmarietta.com.