Once upon a time, only your little doctor’s office sold glasses. It worked well. You could look them in the eye, and you knew where they were made. If you were having a hard time adjusting to them or they needed repairs, that little community office would fix it. After all, they were professionals of sight. Experts.
Before long though, frames became big business. An overseas monopoly bought up every designer anyone had heard of. The monopoly created the vision plan, and turned glasses into something you bought insurance to get. One little office at a time, they took over. And their glasses cost a fortune, all while the little office was powerless to lower prices. That is the driver of a real monopoly — no choice for anyone.
Then the hordes of online glasses websites rode in to save the day. Without the monopoly over their heads, people could finally buy glasses at a reasonable price. But there was a hidden cost to turning our glasses over to websites and their hedge-fund backers. The expertise was lost. Quality took a nosedive. Soon all manner of cheap plastic was masquerading as glasses.
Now there was no one to look in the eye. When they needed repairs or it was a hard adjustment, the only recourse was that same little office, to meet with the real experts. These online glasses sites were supposed to eliminate the middleman, but it never felt that way. It felt like they were just replacing an expensive middleman for a cheaper one.
Then one day, one of their own saw a third option. Not monopoly. Not faceless onlines. Better than both.
What if the experts designed their own frames, and got around the monopoly themselves. And what if they made the finished glasses with their own hands, like it used to be. What would happen if we built a way to get glasses for the only two parties that really matter: eyecare professionals and people that want to see better. What if we all stuck together.
And then we work together to bring back the expertise without the high price tags. We bring back the knowledge of the old with the ease of the new — one customer and one little office at a time.
We are Tribe, the first eyecare collective. Join us.
Tribe Eyeworks and its new model for delivering eyecare was the brainchild of Dr. Nicholas Pittman.
Growing up with a long list of eye problems, a career in helping others see better seemed a natural calling.
Beginning in the field as a teenager as a glasses lab technician, with later roles in various office roles such as insurance billing and optician, provided the chance to learn the complexities of a diverse industry. Dr. Pittman would go on to earn degrees from Missouri State and the Nova College of Optometry. With a clinical background in the VA health system and the Dartmouth College community, more challenging medical cases were a daily occurrence.
The combination of these experiences, however, made the necessity of building a better system even more clear. Leaving a comfortable and rewarding group practice in the Upper Valley, Tribe Eyeworks was launched in the Fall of 2018.
Like so many areas of worldwide healthcare, the care of our eyes suffers from crushing inequality. The most common forms of blindness in the world are trachoma and simply not having glasses. This is wrong and entirely in our power to change. That is why every glasses or contacts purchase at Tribe — will take a small step towards making sight a human right.