I love New York, but sometimes I go into a jealous rage when I see what people who live in Los Angeles are up to. They have the beach, the green juice, and the most zen yoga teachers. But my most recent bout of L.A. envy took me by surprise. I realized Angelinos had something I couldn’t get here in New York — and no, it wasn’t a granola bowl form République. It was a fancy eye doctor.
And it wasn’t just the eye doctor, it was his new holistic eye doctor’s office. It’s called Zak. As Vogue puts it, Zak is a startup that “wants to bring eye care to the forefront of wellness culture.” It’s a father-daughter operation, and its show runners are Kyly Zak Rabin and her father, optometrist Dr. Myles Zakheim. A visit to Zak, located on L.A.'s Fairfax Avenue, is not simply a visit to the eye doctor; it’s an experience. A journey upon which you receive complimentary carrot juice. “It comes in a biodegradable cup,” Rabin tells me. “Carrots provide vitamin A, which, as we know, is good for eyes. It’s a nice way to engage with customers and have a conversation about their health over fresh carrot juice.” As they say, the devil is in the details, and this particular one made me want to sell my soul to L.A. and Zak eyewear. You can also feast your eyes on custom Clare V. wallpaper in one of the exam rooms. These all might sound like superficial facets to business, but there's more to it than the shiny accolades that catch the eye first.
The proof is in the eye care. “People look at getting an eye exam like it’s an obligation,” Rabin says. She wants to change that by making Zak a pleasant one-stop shop for all eye needs. They have their own line of unisex frames that you can browse on their site, cost $125, and come in three frame colors. You can also choose from a variety of tints — rose, lime, mirror gold! — and six shapes, including: Round, Really Round, Rectangle, Square, Cat, and Pilot. Anyone can order these stylish specs online from Zak, but if you're not in Los Angeles you don't get the carrot juice . And beyond their eponymous frames, they also offer designer glasses from labels such as Yuichi Toyama and Saint Rita Parlor.
As for their brick and mortar location, they want you to be able to get all your eye needs met under one roof, Zakheim tells me. This includes getting an insurance-backed eye exam done by a friendly, engaging optometrist. It means having your Zak glasses made in front of you, and your contact lenses fitted and ordered for home-delivery. And, all this will be done in about an hour. “We’re bringing comprehensive care,” Zakheim explains.
Rabin and Zakheim say making eye care more approachable is important for a few reasons. For one, eye exams aren’t just about sight. Zakheim notes that the eyes are the window to your health. You can look at the optic nerve and see signs of an autoimmune issue. You can also look at the back of the eye and see tipoffs that a person has high blood pressure or diabetes. “An eye exam is about more than just what line you can see on the eye chart,” Rabin says.
Ultimately, Rabin and Zakheim want people to care about their sight as much as they care about what they eat, what they look like, and how they feel. But they know it’s an uphill battle. Most people, including myself, don’t like going to the eye doctor. Eye dilation is a trip, and those ugly sunglasses they give to you afterwards are always too big and never fashionable. And then, in many cases, you have to take the extra step of buying your contacts online or hitting Warby Parker for a new frame. Trust me, I know — I’m squinting at my computer as I type this in three-month old, dried out contacts because I’ve been too busy and too cheap to go online and refill my contact prescription.
But Zak wants to take the hassle and the dread out of the experience. And for people like me, the lure of the chic lenses and fresh juice is the ultimate lure.