Once she finished school in Boston, optometrist Morvari Ahi could have gone anywhere. She chose to come home.
“I grew up here,” she said. “I wanted to provide eyecare to the community that provided me so much growing up.”
Ahi opened Los Altos Eye- care last November at 2251 Grant Road, Suite C. The office is south Los Altos’ only optometry practice.
“Many of my patients are my neighbors who live within a mile from the office,” she said. “It has been very exciting for me to bring optometry to this part of the community.”
But Ahi, who graduated from the New England College of Optometry, isn’t just a new game in town. She is aiming to complement the handful of optometrists in Los Altos as well as compete with online shopping. Selling glasses is a crowded market, but Ahi thinks that her office has two notable advantages in her dedication to cutting-edge technology and to what she terms “white-glove service.”
According to Ahi, a checkup at Los Altos Eyecare is not a typical exam. The office is full of computerized health-care options that would look out of place in a Norman Rockwell painting. Digital refractors replace phoropters, with their countless silver discs.
“In Boston, we had new technology all the time,” she said, adding that now that she’s in private practice, she keeps up with it through vendors and journals.
Technology changes constantly, Ahi noted, pointing to an example in her work.
“Glaucoma research is rapidly changing,” she said. “Optometrists have to constantly keep up-to-date with the new research.”
Those office gadgets, after all, can only do so much. Ahi looks to treat her patients as whole individuals, not just a set of eyes that need a prescription. And yes, she has old-school medical equipment in case her high-tech tools are on the fritz.
Ahi said her practice’s “white-glove service” sets it apart not just from other optometrists, but also from her biggest competition – online shopping.
“I worry about the health of the patient,” she said. “I want to treat the patient as a family member.”
Without calling out Warby Parker in particular, Ahi referred to the “lower-end materials” that often plague people who turn to the internet for their glasses.
“Here you get glasses that last you a lifetime,” she said of Los Altos Eyecare.
And because prescriptions only last two years, this means that she expects repeat customers.
“We try to set ourselves apart. We provide our patients lifetime tune-ups, for example, where you can stop by anytime for a frame adjustment or a minor repair.”
According to Ahi, there are hundreds of eyewear brands and companies, and not every patient is a fit for every pair of spectacles.
“I make sure we stand behind every product that we sell,” she said. “Our patients only deserve and receive the best eyecare services and eyewear options/technology.”
People who get a prescription once and then rely on the internet miss out on eye health, which is where Ahi believes she shines. She said her experience with children and a clientele that ranges in age from 18 months to 91 years make her a much better option than online shopping.
“I have the opportunity to provide my patients specialty eyecare, such as low vision and vision therapy,” she said, especially good options for children and those who spend too much time in front of screens. “Many of my patients complain of dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue and headaches – these are all symptoms of digital eyestrain.”
To an eye doctor, Los Altos has a conflicted relationship with digital life. Eyestrain provides Ahi work, but patients who spend their time scrolling through online companies searching for glasses aren’t spending their time looking at her displays.
That’s where her brother, Mehruss, comes in. Mehruss Ahi, an architect, runs Los Altos Eye- care’s social media accounts. He works with his sister to bring an “Apple mindset” to optometry.
“No one has ever done it for a medical office,” he said. “A lot of offices don’t think about it,” which means that a lot of offices look the same.
Los Altos Eyecare, with stylized spectacles as a logo and a black-and-white aesthetic inside, aims to be different.
“I’m interested in the whole creating a brand and a graphic identity,” Mehruss Ahi said. “No matter how my sister transforms the office, people know what to expect when they walk in.”
What they can expect are movable displays, Nespresso machines and frames ranging from iGreen to Tom Ford. According to the Ahis, patients return because unlike online shopping, they can bring frames and scratched lenses in for repairs without dealing with toll-free numbers.
Dr. Ahi has big plans, but she is a doctor first and foremost. She described the pride she experienced during her training when older optometrists gave examinations to children of their “first round” of patients.
“A lot of optometrists can work to 70 or even 80,” she said.
She mentioned that she works with lots of blended families who have grandparents abroad they’ll bring in to Los Altos for a checkup.
“Two-thirds of our patients have referred a family member or friend to the office,” she said. “They say, ‘Oh, I just moved here …’ and are looking for a new home base.”
She praises Woodland Plaza’s residential setting as a great place to start a business, and hopes to run sports vision clinics for children during the weekends in the office’s ample parking lot.
“I would like to see the office grow, and I would love to stay in south Los Altos,” she said. “It would be awesome.”
For more information, visit losaltoseyecare.com.