Liverpool practice director celebrates 50 years

Ian Silverberg joined his father’s practice, established in 1957, at the age of 13. Now in his 60s, the practice director reflects on his time in optics

ian silverberg

A Liverpool-based dispensing optician and practice director has celebrated 50 years in optics, having followed his father into independent practice.

Ian Silverberg began his journey in optics in 1972, when he turned 13, working Saturdays in the family practices. His father, Harold, established the business in 1957 and owned five Silverberg Opticians practices across Liverpool.

Now, at the age of 63, Silverberg is still working in the independent practice, alongside his wife and business partner, Martine. The practice joined Hakim Group in 2019.

Reflecting on his time in optics, Silverberg shared: “Some of my patients I see now have been coming since they were 12, and now they’re bringing in their kids who are 15 and 16.” He added: “It makes me feel very old.”

“I think they keep coming back because they feel like a part of the practice,” Silverberg suggested, sharing that when patients come in, “we talk about their families, our families; they’re definitely more like friends.”

Looking broadly at how optometry has changed in the time he has been practising, Silverberg said: “Obviously there’s a lot more technology than when I first started, especially on the contact lens side that I specialise in, such as ortho-K, soft lenses and everything to do with myopia management, which is of great interest to me now.”

Silverberg continued working through the pandemic, speaking with patients over the phone and delivering contact lenses and spectacles around Liverpool on-foot.

“Whenever an order came in, I would get my rucksack on and walk around South Liverpool delivering to patients,” Silverberg said, remarking that it “got me exercising…. I quite enjoyed knocking on their door, leaving the specs on their doorstep and waving to them as they came out.”

The practice donated personal protective equipment, which had been reserved for its emergency appointments, to Arrowe Park and Royal Liverpool University Hospital, providing 100 spare visors, along with £40 vouchers to NHS staff.

Colin Doricott, Silverberg’s business partner and co-director, does not see retirement on the cards any time soon for the practice director, suggesting: “He’ll be here for as long as he can because he does have a genuine enjoyment for it, it’s just as much as a hobby for him as it is a job.

“He’s in every morning at 7 o’clock, and by midday he’ll tell you that he’s done his 10,000 steps,” he shared.

Doricott, who joined the practice as an optical assistant 11 years ago, praised Silverberg’s passion, commenting: “He’s still passionate about eyewear, loves looking at different styles - he’s like a little kid for it.”

Silverberg acknowledged that Doricott will be getting more involved in the business, but added, “I’ll still be here.”

“I’ve always loved it, and I still look forward to coming in every day,” he concluded.