When Ruth and Joe Lanni showed up a little early for Joe's 10 a.m. eye appointment, they were happy to sit in the waiting room, awaiting the optometrist, Rebecca McMurdo. The atmosphere was a bit quieter than Joe's last eye exam about two years ago, with the same optometrist. At that time, her practice was located inside Wal-Mart.
"We love her," Ruth Lanni said. "And I love my new glasses." The 92-year-old Brookridge resident had been in just a few weeks before, getting her new lenses. Today was Joe Lanni's turn, also 92. He smiled at his wife as he followed optician Kevin Ottoson into the pre-exam room.
Later, as he was being examined by McMurdo, Joe Lanni pulled off his glasses, a prescription he'd had for five years, to read the eye chart. When asked why he wasn't wearing his most recent pair, Joe Lanni explained he'd scratched them.
"I couldn't see," he said.
Lucky for him, his vision hadn't changed much in five years. McMurdo explained that Joe had cataract surgery on both eyes. So it wasn't all that unusual for his vision to remain relatively the same.
"But you need new lenses," she told him, examining the damaged pair.
The conversation between doctor and patient was comfortable, hinting at why the Lannis stayed loyal to McMurdo even after she made the move. Many of her clients followed her, she said, because her services remained relatively the same. "And I can give them even more options now."
Rebecca McMurdo is an independent doctor of optometry who worked inside Wal-Mart for nine years before going out on her own. She and her colleague, Ottoson, decided to open an optical center in an area of Spring Hill that was heavily traveled but not really being served with convenient eye care options.
"There are lots of vision places on U.S. 19," McMurdo said.
The two found the location in Silverthorne Square, at the corner of Powell Road and Anderson Snow Boulevard.
"It was a former deli," she said, which they completely refurbished into a comfortable vision center. McMurdo Family Vision Carer/Seeklear Optix opened officially in June.
The business has been steadily growing as word gets out that McMurdo moved. The sizable eye center is filled with designer frames in a well-organized shop that McMurdo said offers all the same medical care and optical options she could provide at her former location.
Her decision had a lot to do with flexibility, she said, and taking the freedom to mold her practice around the needs of her clients.
Ottoson, an optician with 15 years of experience, does all the lens placement, etching and cutting where necessary. He also trains clients to care for their contact lenses.
"I have a little more flexibility as far as what I can get for patients," Ottoson said. "When you're with a corporation you are limited on what you can sell."
During the visit, McMurdo checked Joe Lanni's vision using a multitude of tools. She explained how eye exams have been modified to become even more accurate, using state-of-the-art tools, like a camera that takes digital images of the retina.
"With all those blood vessels, the eyes are like a window into the body," McMurdo said. Eye exams can detect eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration as well as other conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
McMurdo's Family Vision Care caters to all ages and all levels of vision problems. About 20 percent of her clients are children. "We start them as young as 3," she said, and use picture charts for those who don't yet know their letters.
On a screen on the wall, McMurdo runs through different picture displays that test things like color vision and depth perception.
But it is more than the state-of-the-art tools and the impressive display of fashionable lenses that keeps clients like Grace Parrinello coming back. "I've been going to Dr. McMurdo for years," Parrinello said. The Spring Hill resident is also the mother of a local podiatrist so she understands the medical profession and is a firm believer in building strong relationships between physicians and their patients.
She has that kind of rapport with McMurdo. "She is wonderful," Parrinello said.