The independent advantage

Dr. Matthew Harrison, a SW Ontario Independent OD aligned with the Eye Recommend network, presents the case for independent practice with the support of a strong membership group.

Dr. Harrison, a 2013 University of Waterloo grad, provides his definition of “Independent Practice”, a term that is often bandied around and accepted often without a full understanding of its meaning and consequences to practice.

He concludes that independence ultimately is defined as the freedom of choice to selectively utilize the tools you desire to provide the highest level of care.

He advocates that you can have the best of both worlds by aligning with a strong member group such as Eye Recommend, which has 500+ practices across Canada and over 1300 optometry professionals.

The Independent Advantage Dr. Matt Harrison
View Dr. Harrison’s full presentation by clicking the play button above

NextGEN ODs as early as Year 2 can receive a signing bonus of $25,000 when starting with an Eye Recommend practice after graduation.

For more information on the “Eye Recommend” advantage: connect here.



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A few months after opening their doors as the first Specsavers location in Toronto, Dr. Jestyn Liew, optometry partner, and Rita Charchyan, retail partner, reflect on their entry into the GTA, with the help of their experienced team.

Q: How has business been since opening your doors at Specsavers CF Fairview Mall?

Dr. Liew: Rita and I have been thrilled to see the large rush of people coming from all around the GTA to our store. People are excited to experience Specsavers. I believe that affordable, quality eyewear is an important part of this excitement, especially in our current economic climate.

And since opening my clinic within Specsavers Fairview, the consistency of eye exam bookings has been fantastic – especially considering we are building a brand-new patient base. I’m proud to deliver quality and comprehensive care to my patients.

Rita: Being the first Specsavers location to open in Toronto has been incredibly rewarding, and we’ve had a great start with 30% more traffic than Dr. Liew and I had anticipated.

Q: How has your experience partnering with Specsavers been?

Rita: My experience with Specsavers has been amazing. I’ve always had a goal of owning my own business, but there was concern about the pressures that come with being an entrepreneur. With Specsavers, I feel I have an incredible amount of support behind me, for which I am grateful. I’ve found the best partner in Dr. Liew and working with the Specsavers support office has helped bring us together as a team even more. I consider myself lucky to be in this position.

Dr. Liew: Before exploring partnership, I knew very little about Specsavers other than the tag line “Should’ve Gone to Specsavers” from viral content online. Although the Canadian partnership model is different, I spoke with a lovely Specsavers partner in Australia about the support, culture, and purpose; I felt my questions were answered. I’m truly appreciative of the support I receive from Specsavers, including those who helped lay the foundation for us when we first opened our doors. Being in a partnership means that we’re working together to reach a common goal, so we’re always sharing our feelings and ideas to help us get there.


Dr. Liew, OD and Rita Charchyan, RO, partners of Specsavers CF Fairview Mall Toronto

Q: What inspired you to become a business owner?

Rita: I come from a family of entrepreneurs and my father was my role model growing up. What stands out to me about Specsavers is their philosophy and values to make eyecare and eyewear accessible to all, aligned with my own.

Dr. Liew: When I started working as an associate optometrist in Canada, I’d always try to find ways to improve processes in the clinic – whether it was for the patients, doctors, or team. Often, everyone was stuck in their own place, and my changes would not be implemented. My better half was the one who pushed me to consider becoming a clinic owner to conduct business on my own terms.

Partnership with Specsavers checks many boxes. I was able to own shares of an optical retail store with a retail partner and start my own independent clinic at the same time. Financially, the opportunity made a lot of sense. Layering this with their excellent technology, investment in their partners and patients, and marketing, makes Specsavers incomparable.

Q: What, if any, barriers stopped you from starting your own business sooner?

Dr. Liew:  Before, my main concern with opening up a clinic of my own was always how it’d affect my family’s quality of life. With Specsavers, the start-up cost contribution and partnership model mean that a lot of the uncertainties and challenges of opening a business reduced. The timing and opportunity were right for me to proceed.

Rita: I always wanted to start my own business, so I was excited by the opportunity to minimize my start-up costs of ownership. It means I can focus on growing my business.

Q: What are you hearing from patients and customers at your location?

Dr. Liew: Our patients love all the technology in the clinic. Very often, we will get comments that certain testing or use of technology in their standard eye exam is new for our patients.

We’ve also seen a large number of Specsavers customers who lived in other markets, such as the UK. They’re so happy to see that Specsavers, a brand they know and trust, is in the Canadian market.

Q: What would you like to tell someone considering joining Specsavers Fairview Mall or elsewhere in the Specsavers network?

Rita: For anyone considering Specsavers, I’d say that you’re not joining a company, you’re joining a big community! When we were first exploring and considering Specsavers, I reached out to a Specsavers partner in Australia, who said ‘just do it!’ It’s a great place to be, it’s very rewarding and you have constant, positive support.

Dr. Liew: For any doctors thinking of starting their own independent clinic and partnership with Specsavers, I’d encourage you to talk to a local partner. We all share a common goal of helping our patients see their best by providing quality eyecare. If you want to join a network of like-minded doctors, pop over and have a chat!

For potential staff, eyecare consultants and opticians, you’ll be joining a hard-working and caring team. Each location is like a community, and we are here for each other.

Find out if partnership with Specsavers is for you. Reach out to the Specsavers Partnerships Team at

 This Post is Sponsored by Specsavers.


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Dr. Mark Langer graduated from Pacific University College of Optometry in 2013. He had interned at a number of interesting practice locations, including private practice in Beverly Hills California, an Army Hospital in Europe, a Veteran Affairs Clinic in Hawaii, and a private practice and IRIS location in British Columbia.

While engaging with young ODs and optometry students at the March 2023 NextGEN OD event, it is not surprising therefore to hear him strongly recommend that NextGen ODs step back from the academics and take time to network and build bridges to their future opportunities.

A Mentor’s Advice
While contemplating the “how, what and where’ of his future practice opportunities, a successful private practice owner/mentor offered this advice, “”Pick where you want to live and build a life there”.

Langer took the advice to heart. Building upon the connections previously forged, he landed with IRIS in the BC interior.

Aligning the family around the decision to stay in the Okanagan Valley, Dr. Langer officially partnered with IRIS which perfectly melds his professional career and personal lifestyle – which now includes a family of “three little dudes!”.

He’s appreciative of the professional teams that take the administration burden off his plate allowing him to go home, put on his “Daddy Cape” and enjoy life.

My Path to Practice Partnership at IRIS
View Dr. Langer’s full presentation by clicking the play button above.

Key Point of advice: “Make sure that life outside of work is at the forefront of any decision you make.”


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Dr. Michael Naugle discusses OD Compensation models

The following subject matter is usually not discussed in an open forum, but is essential information for NextGEN Optometrists looking to land their first practice experience. Dr. Michael Naugle, VP of Optometric Partnerships FYidoctors, addressed attendees of the “Opportunities & Options for New Optometrists” event March 29.

The hybrid event reached over 150 attendees, including a live audience at University of Waterloo and online webinar participants.

While Dr. Naugle emphasized the importance of matching personal values and clinical interests with prospective practice opportunities, he noted that compensation is an important factor that can vary considerably in different situations.

USA vs. Canada | Rural vs. Urban
Dr. Naugle addressed the realities of how the geographic setting of a practice could impact OD compensation. He covered the expected differences in net earnings for optometrists in USA versus Canada. He explained how the different compensation models generate the perception that OD incomes are higher in the USA but further explained how other factors come into play to make Canadian compensation potentially more attractive.

Dr. Naugle elaborated on the “pillars of compensation” and presented details on how compensation might vary in different Canadian provinces and in urban versus rural practice settings with specific examples.

How Practice Geography Impacts OD Compensatin
View Dr. Naugle’s full presentation by clicking the play button above.

He advised new optometrists to dive deeper than the simple “percent of total gross billings” as other critical factors will outweigh this “top line” figure, citing specific questions that associate NextGen ODs need to ask to determine the income potential in specific practice situations.

Recently, Dr. Naugle was interviewed by NextGEN OD Ambassador, Nyah Miranda regarding the FYidoctor’s Future Vision Leadership Program.  
Click the link to listen to this recent discussion.



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Opportunities for NextGEN Optometrists

Dr. Sophia Leung is at the cutting edge of the transformation of primary care Optometry to the medical model.

As a residency-trained and fellowship-trained optometrist with a clinical emphasis on the cornea, advanced glaucoma, and anterior segment disease, she calls upon her own experience to provide insights on the benefits of residencies and fellowships and provides concrete advice on finding the right match for young ODs.

After spending five years in private practice, Dr. Leung pursued an Ocular Disease and Refractive Surgery Residency in the US followed by an Advanced Glaucoma and Cornea Fellowship.

This led her to her current position as Principal Optometrists at a high volume corneal, cataract, and refractive surgical centre in Calgary, AB.  Dr. Leung is developing an OD-to-OD referral model the enhance patient access to ophthalmologic care that also increases time efficiency for ophthalmologists.

Dr. Leung is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry in the Anterior Segment Section, the first Albertan and Canadian to do so.  She is President-Elect of the Alberta Association of Optometrists.

You can view her full presentation by clicking the play button below.

Dr. Sophia Leung discusses Residencies and Fellowships

Earlier this year, Dr. Leung was the guest on Eye Care Canada’s Eyes Wide Open Podcast.

She and host Dr. Roxanne Arnal discuss their personal and professional insights on mentorship, professional collaboration, and the evolution of optometry. They also delve into stress and practitioner burnout and point to a few interesting reads on the topic.


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next Gen OD webinar

In a uniquely formatted event, Canadian Optometry students were treated to the perspectives of both recent OD grads and insights of seasoned experts showcasing the opportunities and options available to them as they forge their professional careers.

The event was held simultaneously live to 100 students at University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science and via online webinar to an expanded North American audience of young Canadian optometry students, including those studying in US Schools, including New England College of Optometry and others.

Bausch + Lomb Canada and Eye Care Business Canada | NextGen OD co-presented the event which was sponsored by B+L partners including Bailey Nelson, Eye Recommend, FYidoctors, and the IRIS Group.

NextGEN OD ambassadors Jenny Lee (OD-4 Univ. of Waterloo) and Nyah Miranda (OD-1 NECO) co-hosted the event, which presented six speakers, which was capped off with a panel Q&A and prize draws of over $1000 valiue.

YouTube Ravi Tanna
Watch Ravi Tanna’s Introduction to the NextGen OD Event – March 29, 2023. Tanna opens the event with his deeply personal account of his Best and Worse days relating to his own eye care.

Speakers Share Perspectives

Dr. Sophia Leung, President-elect of the Alberta Association of Optometrists provided advice on pursuing residencies and fellowships based on her own experience.

Dr. Michael Naugle, VP of Optometric Partnerships, FYidoctors, provided a very detailed assessment of the various OD compensation models, particularly as they relate to practicing in USA versus Canada and in various geographical settings; urban versus rural within Canada.

Dr. Mark Langer, IRIS Practice Owner in BC, shared his unique path to to practice ownership from Pacific College of Optometry (Oregon) to ownership of a community-based practice in the Okanogan Valley, having to wrestle with the decision to practice in Canada versus USA along the way.

Dr. Matthew Harrison, practicing in an Eye Recommend Practice in SW Ontario, shared his perspectives on the benefits of “Independent Practice”, including details on the Associate Signing Bonus Program offered by Eye Recommend.

Dr. Laurie Lesser, Eye Care Director, Bailey-Nelson North America and UK, provided a history of the chill Aussie Brand retailer addressing the importance of work-life balance in an optometric career.

Over $1000 of Prizes

Following the Q&A  , all event attendees were entered into a random prize draw. Here are the winners:

Clinical & Refractive Optometry Annual Subscription/Complimentary CE:
Amanda Leong (UW 2026)

Bailey Nelson Quality Sunwear:
Bethany Lo (UW 2023)

Eye Recommend $100 Gift Cards award to three attendees:|
Amy Wang (UW 2024)
Sarah Long (UW 2025)
Jean Nasta (UW 2026)

FYidoctors $100 e-gift card:
Alexander Rozbacher (UW 2024)

IRIS Group iPAD winner:
Vyshnavi Satyajit (NECO 2024)

Photo Gallery – Live Event Univ. of Waterloo

Live Event Univ. of Waterloo Live Event Univ. of Waterloo Live Event Univ. of Waterloo Live Event Univ. of Waterloo




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Dr. Michael Naugle provides an in-depth explanation of how the FYidoctors’ Future Vision Leaders program works with NextGenOD’s  Nyah Miranda, a first-year OD student at New England College of Optometry (NECO).  Nyah and her Canadian compatriots account for 39% of the year 1 class at NECO.


Dr. Naugle explains how the $100,000 loan forgiveness program works, how it is tiered by geographic location, explains eligibility and all the details involved with the program.

He also explains that while it appears that income is higher if OD students stay in US, this is actually not the case when you take everything into account. (10 Mins)

Related Links:  
Dr. Naugle’s EyesWideOpen Podcast with Roxanne Arnal 




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In his current role as VP, Optometric Partnerships, Dr. Michael Naugle oversees the growth and development of the FYidoctors banner in Canada and is a key figure in recruiting new optometrists. From the company’s inception in 2008 up until 2015, he served as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors and Vice Chairman of the Advisory Committee.

About the Guest

Dr. Naugle has held many leadership positions throughout his career. Since 2011 until 2016, he served as the Optometry Chairperson of the Canadian Coalition of Eyecare Professionals (CCEPro), a grass roots coalition of ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians.

He is the a past President of the New Brunswick Association of Optometrists in 2000-2002, before which he served as the Registrar of the New Brunswick Association of the Optometrists from 1997-1998.

Dr. Naugle was part of a large group practice in Moncton, New Brunswick, that was one of one founding groups of FYidoctors. In 2017 he transitioned full time to the FYidoctors leadership team and is the executive sponsor for the Future Vision Leaders Program supporting the next generation of Canadian optometrists.

Episode Notes

EWO host, Dr. Roxanne Arnal talks with Dr. Michael Naugle about the challenges facing Optometry today, with a focus on those faced by the newest generation of ODs.

Dr. Naugle outlines how the Future Vision Leaders forgivable loan program is tiered by location providing an up-front loan of up to $100,000 which is forgiven by $20,000 for each year the recipient is with FYidoctors. He outlines eligibility and how the program is tiered based on geographic location.

Dr. Naugle breaks news regarding a new collaboration with New England College of Optometry (NECO) which supports 3rd and 4th year Canadian students with a full forgivable loan to cover 3rd and 4th year tuition.

He provides concrete examples of how the “doctor-owned – doctor-driven” DNA of the company has lead to providing superior patient care through the unusual acquisition of diagnostic tools for members.

Dr. Naugle explains how the traditional binary roles of owner/manager or clinician has been expanded at FYidoctors to accommodate different perspectives for ODs at all stages of career development by adding options that include leadership without ownership and ownership without the burden of management – an innovative and flexible approach.

Listen to the full 29 min. podcast for further insights into the FYidoctor story and evolution.




Optometrist and Certified Financial Planner

Roxanne Arnal graduated from UW School of Optometry in 1995 and is a past-president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) and the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS).  She subsequently built a thriving optometric practice in rural Alberta.

Roxanne took the decision in  2012 to leave optometry and become a financial planning professional.  She now focuses on providing services to Optometrists with a plan to parlay her unique expertise to help optometric practices and their families across the country meet their goals through astute financial planning and decision making.

Roxanne splits EWO podcast hosting duties with Dr. Glen Chiasson.


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Being an optometrist isn’t easy as there are so many things to look after, primarily when you are subleasing and don’t have control of the optical staff. Subleasing has plenty of benefits to offer, including having trained staff who work under your wing and assist you in your daily operations via your contract.

So, what happens when your staff makes errors and makes it difficult for you to run your practice? Such errors include not collecting payments on time from patients.

This isn’t beneficial for your practice and can result in significant losses. So, what should an optometrist do in such a situation? Let’s find out:

Collect Payment Before Treatment
This practice may not be allowed in some jurisdications, which is why it’s crucial to check before implementing . When you collect payments from your patients first, it can help you have clarity whether the patient has paid or not.

If your optical staff fails to collect payment from the patients after the treatment, you’ll be looking at a loss. You would have provided quality treatment to the patient and would note  even get paid for it. See if you can collect payment first.

Hire Your Staff
When you sublease space to run your practice, you will likely have to work with the existing staff. However, it can become problematic once the optical staff makes enormous mistakes. I

In such a situation, you should hire your staff. You can interview yourself to see their potential. When you have the right people for the job working under you, you’ll experience fewer errors and more ease.  Interview potential candidates thoroughly before appointing them, and have a much smoother experience at work.

Set Up Online Payment
If your staff forgets to collect payment from the patients, one thing you can do is ask them to call those patients, apologize for the oversight,  and ask for the payment.

Since your staff made the mistake of collecting payment, they should be the ones who make the call. Also, another suitable way to collect payment would be to set up an online payment option where patients can pay before getting the treatment. This way, you’ll receive the amounts, and your staff wouldn’t have to go after the patients regarding payments.

The Paper Trail
There should be paperwork for everything, including collecting payments from patients. You should have access to the invoices stating that the patient has paid a certain amount of money to receive a particular treatment.

Once you have all the documents, you’ll have proof that the patient has paid, and your staff didn’t forget to ask for the required money. Also, if there’s an invoice missing, you’ll immediately know that your employees failed to fetch the payment.

Do it Yourself?
This isn’t your job as an OD, but if your staff is not on top of things, you’ll have to step in. If you want to ensure your patients pay you the money you’re entitled to receive, you should collect it yourself at the end of the treatment. This way, you won’t have to run after optical staff to do so, and you’ll have your dues as well.


is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit to learn more.


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There is an generational effect  on the optometry industry that is changing expectations from optometry clinics. Millennials and optometry have an important correlation since there are steady changes happening in technology, practice management, work-life balance, patient care and diversity and inclusion. For many millenial ODs, there is a good fit between their expectations and values and a corporate optometry career path.

Trends in Optometry
While millennial ODs need to face an economic reality they do have the flexibility that can help them face future uncertainties.  Going through school and building their careers might leave many millennials with high debt, and without the capital to pursue independent optometry.  Corporate optometry has become an attractive option.

Millennials are part of the digital generation, where, like most industries, technology is prioritized. They also wired to expect high efficiency and productivity. They also have a comfort level with technology that can help build relationships with patients.

Digital Future of Optometry
Modern offices are turning towards digital space to increase efficiency. This can include  software for billing, appointments, and booking – things like cloud access and digital imaging for records and patient data. Optometry offices are being expanded to digital spaces for greater accessibility.

Cloud Adoption
The willingness millennials have to turn towards the cloud is a great asset.

Millennials and optometry involve incorporating IT setups, hardware, and software. It can mean more training as well as costs from tech glitches. If an optometry clinic has different office locations, it can mean the use of multiple IT systems, which can lead to expenditure cost.

Millennials are turning the trend to optometry offices towards incorporating the right sort of technology into the right spaces.

This model needs patient privacy compliance and has a fully-managed and secure structure. It also gives room to optometry clinics to be more transparent with their customers.

Through seamless integration, there is increased accountability of the optometry clinics as well.

Diversity and Inclusiveness
Young ODs want to feel part of something bigger. They make sure the promotion practices throughout the organization are unbiased and equitable.

They are looking for a structured internal mobility program to provide equal opportunities. Many corporate opticals, like Warby Parker, have taken steps to help grow diversity in optometry. Many millennial ODs feel they belong in organizations that provide these opportunities, and have taken subleases accordingly.

Millennial ODs have changed how the industry performs and works with its patients and workforce. This can be quite a positive change in terms of relationships, efficiency, and ability to expand.


is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit to learn more.


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