About The Dry Eye Company
In A Nutshell
Hi. I’m Rebecca. I own The Dry Eye Company. I started it in 2004 as a hobby - slash - business that grew out of personal experiences with dry eye and a passion for patient education and advocacy.
TDEC runs two main websites - DryEyeShop.com, our specialty store and DryEyeZone.com, our education and community arm. We also have Facebook support groups DryEyeTalk and MyBigFatScleralLens and KeratoScoop, our newsletter for dry eye patients and scleral lens users. Please visit our forums to connect with other patients!
The Dry Eye Shop specializes in (1) consumer & optical products to help manage the life impact of dry eye, and (2) specialty products for PROSE device and scleral lens users.
My values for The Dry Eye Company are realness, directness, practicality, helpfulness, responsibility, education, generosity and above all kindness. I eschew marketingspeak, testimonials and self-aggrandizing fanfares of every kind. I despise over selling, up selling, hard selling and for that matter pretty much every other kind of selling. My favorite pastime is helping people navigate highly specialized eyecare needs - whether by helping them find, devise or jury-rig just the right product, helping them explore new diagnostic and treatment options to talk to their doctor about, or helping them seek out the right kind of specialist.
The Dry Eye Shop is a small business, with everything that implies. We price our products as low as we can afford to and we offer the cheapest shipping rates that we are able to. Feel free to use us for information, guidance, and product support questions while shopping wherever you can get the best deal. And if you’re unemployed, uninsured or on a fixed income and struggling with the high costs of over the counter dry eye products, feel free to reach out to me, as we sometimes have donated products available at no charge and in some cases we can offer special discounts.
A different kind of company
Have you hit that stage in life yet where you no longer give a rip what others think of you? Where expectations cease to have meaning? Where you feel more and more at home in complete indifference to conventional thinking?
No? Well, I hope you do soon, because it’s SO MUCH FUN and so intensely satisfying living outside the box, both personally and professionally. With each precious year that passes, I find myself daring to be more different in more aspects of how I run my business - and life.
So what does “different” look like for The Dry Eye Company?
We’re specialists in things no one else knows or cares about.
The right type of contraption to protect the eyes from drying out overnight… for an individual with severe exposure keratitis and fragile skin and who may panic if waking with that eye occluded? What about a bell’s palsy or acoustic neuroma patient who has a narrow nose bridge and uses a CPAP mask? How about navigating scleral lens filling solutions for someone with extreme pH sensitivity who cannot tolerate the conventional 0.9% sodium chloride solution?
These are the types of trivia we delight in! Yes, seriously!
In DRY EYE, we strive to collect in one place both mainstream and obscure products that can be helpful wth symptom management. (Back in the beginning, our motto was “Beyond the Bottle”, i.e. everything except the pharmaceutical stuff… still true.) Our top specialties are tools and strategies for protecting dry eyes at night, and moisture retaining eyewear for daytime use indoors and outdoors. And it’s not just about the products - our real specialty is guidance about what works best for whom, based on years of experience to which you, our customers are constantly adding! Every possible special situation… from small children, to material allergies, to face sleepers, challenges of major reconstructive eyelid surgeries, CPAP mask compatibility and the list goes on, and on, and on. We would love to help you navigate these very, very special needs to find the tools to help keep your corneas safe and comfortable and help improve your quality of life!
In SCLERAL LENS SUPPLIES, we try to gather in one place just about everything you could need for scleral lens care and we wrap as much information as possible around it. PROSE patients have been a core part of our customer base for many years. I began wearing PROSE myself in 2006 and have been a huge fan of BostonSight ever since - I typically speak with several PROSE patients every week. These days commercial scleral lenses are rapidly going mainstream, but that is a recent development and there’s not much support or information available. That’s where we come in! We have articles comparing preservative free saline options, explaining all aspects of scleral lens care and suggesting questions and issues to raise with your doctor or contact lens technician when you are encountering difficulties.
We serve rather than sell.
(If you’re determined to buy something, go ahead, but don’t blame us.)
I have a simple philosophy about finances: Serve well, period, and the money will follow. At least enough to break even. For a modest lifestyle. Maybe. Sort of. At least sometimes. OK never mind. But serve anyway. Serve always. Keep serving. Period. Because life is better this way. Period.
Seriously, I feel so humbled and grateful when I look back over the years and see how the ups and downs of small business cashflow have proven powerless to change what matters - those fundamental values - in a word - YOU. It is so deeply satisfying to give oneself the freedom to simply focus on serving the wonderful people that come our way.
What does service look like to us? It means finding out what you need (and in many cases, that means helping you find out what you need) and doing our best to help you get it, whether it is related to the Dry Eye Shop (products, customer service, etc), to other products from other companies, or to your dry eye journey more broadly, like questions or concerns you have about navigating medical resources and getting the support you need. We will do anything we can to help point you in the direction of getting answers to your questions.
Our product descriptions are… different
As you’ll see very quickly, we have a ton of information about our products. Here are our core values about product descriptions:
Reality first! Personal description: I write my own descriptions of every single product. I do not hesitate to point out features AND flaws or limitations. I try not to tread too egregiously on any manufacturer’s feelings by being unnecessarily blunt, but my first duty is to help you, the consumer/patient, figure it out, therefore, my descriptions are usage-oriented and include lots of practical information to help you choose between similar products. They reflect many years’ experience working with people with a variety of eye conditions and benefiting from what they have shared with me over the years about what has worked for them. These descriptions will never be perfect or complete, though. If you have something to contribute or to ask, please post a review or post a question on the help desk so we can continue growing this vast resource!
Alternative reality a begrudging second! Manufacturer’s description: As a courtesy we always include complete manufacturer language about every product. Whether it’s dry as a bone and painfully uninformative, or flowery, fulsome marketing language, or one of the rare ones that actually tells useful things about their product, they will get full air time on our site.
Real life validation an enthusiastic third! User feedback is tops! We include your reviews, which we like best when you give as much detail as possible about what you loved, hated, were indifferent to, jury-rigged, or adapted for your needs. Your information sharing is hugely valuable to others! We also post all Q&A submitted via the helpdesk to help continuously expand the practical information available.
Over-inform! Leave nothing out! If we are missing something about a product, please let us know, so we can add it. I’m constantly adding new articles and guides to help put products in the context of specific medical and practical needs. Anything that I find myself answering over and over on the phone, I try to write up so that more people can benefit.
We answer the phone.
And we list it in HUGE PRINT on every page.
I worked solo for many years. Loved it. I spent a lot of time on really long phone calls with people who were in a bad place with dry eye. Coaching people through those places - helping them orient themselves and find good eyecare professionals and investigate treatment options and access good palliative care - has always been one of my favorite things to do. But one of the hard things about it was so many calls always went to voicemail. Worse yet, many people didn’t bother to leave a message as they didn’t believe anyone would call back. I also periodically went through overload or burnout from too many intense calls in a row (severe depression and anxiety are common in the ‘crisis’ stage of dry eye) and just had to stop answering the phone for a few days at a time.
Now I have a staff! And one of the things that makes me happiest is that we can answer many more calls. Some still go to voicemail during busy times but we call them back quickly. And our core value for phone calls is, once you’ve got us, you have our full attention for as long as it takes. We can’t spend hours just chatting, of course, but we will take the time to help you with whatever you are calling for. I LOVE the freedom to commit to that kind of personal care for our callers/visitors.
We don’t pretend to be bigger or better than we are.
I thoroughly, utterly, completely and totally despise every trick of the trade that is meant to create the illusion of a larger, fancier, more important company than one really has.
We are who we are, and we like who we are. Hope you do too.
Here is my team - as of February, 2017 - in order of when they joined the team:
Rebecca Petris (me!) (full time, Poulsbo). Owner. I love my job. I just wish the to-do list wasn't longer at the end of the day than at the start.
Brent Owen (full time, Poulsbo, IT and order fulfillment and heavy-stuff-handler): Takes great pride in our productivity amidst the various post Unisol crises of the past year. Best known for his standard response each Monday that the truck showed up with several pallets of Purilens at 1:30 in the afternoon on a day with backorders up the wazoo for desperately anxious customers… when we needed to unload, unpack, repack and ship out ~2,500 bottles by the time UPS arrived at 4pm: Big smile and “Bring it on!” - Brent was also responsible for our much needed dryeyeshop site facelist last summer.
Aidan Moore (student; telecommutes part time from Pomona and works in Poulsbo in summers): Aidan has assisted me on a wide range of projects from corporate to retail to educational to IT related. I don’t dare say out loud how much I value him and why, because someone would try to poach him. (Hands off, he’s mine!) June cannot come fast enough, I need him back!
Lindy Thibodaux (full time, telecommutes from Portland, customer service): A heaven-sent listener. A flawless follower-upper on every possible detail. Customer service never, ever had it so good. And if USPS, UPS or Fedex screwed up your delivery, they had better watch out because they will be stalked by a gentle but determined avenging fury until they fix it! Also a wonderful idea generator. If you see us on Pinterest anytime soon it will be all her doing. (For those who don't know, Lindy and I are sisters!)
Espen Swanson (student; telecommutes part time and works in Poulsbo in summer): Among so many other things, Espen is my very favourite brainstorming buddy. A few hours with Espen and giant whiteboards is terrific fun. A wonderful mind. Also ran my stockroom last summer and did lots of much needed photography. He'll be here in June for, if I have my way, mostly photography projects to help us make dry eye products easier to understand online.
Susan Loegering (part time, Poulsbo): Runs the stockroom like clockwork! I honestly have no idea how she does it. It’s beautiful. I am so lucky. How do I get people like this???
Gabriella Vogt (part time, Poulsbo): Personal assistant. Just started, still getting to know each other, but she's fantastic, smart, hard worker, great big smile and best can-do attitude.
Stay tuned for some pictures of our Poulsbo digs and staff.
That’s about it. Want to know more? Call.