David Shen’s hands have healed in most corners of the country. He’s lived in New York, California, and Florida – but when he got to Franklin, the doctor knew he had found his home in Tennessee.
After spending six years as the founder and director of Optometric Services at the Vanderbilt Laser Sight Center, David and his wife Wendy opened Vue Optique on Main Street in 2005. The private practice was a professional jump for David, but one that he had been anticipating making in a town like Franklin.
“My goal early on was to get the best training and then become involved in my community,” David says. “Many people look for doctors when they move to a new area, and we often find we are the welcoming committee for downtown Franklin.”
The couple has had their hands in events around the area since they moved. They’re patrons of Studio Tenn based in the Franklin Theatre and, as avid wine enthusiasts, supporters of Wine Down Main Street. David is on the board of directors at O’More College of Design, an elite school in the heart of downtown. And though David splits his time between Vue Optique and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Murfreesboro, he still finds time to develop relationships in the community.
“I say this tongue in cheek, but I’d been in the ivory tower most of my career,” he says. “The idea was to do all that and then be able to hang out and join a community like Franklin.”
David has spent his professional career at Ivy League universities and internationally recognized medical facilities. He received his undergraduate from Cornell University
and completed his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated valedictorian. He performed his residency in ocular disease at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, which has been rated the top eye hospital in the country for eight consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. Dr. Ming Wang recruited him to the Vanderbilt Laser Sight Center while David was teaching at Berkeley.
Having grown up in New York, David was drawn to Franklin for the familial aspect of a small town.
“I’m a neighborhood kind of person, just like a lot of people who come here,” he says. “I like walking down the street and knowing people.”
David says the relationships he and his wife have developed in town are among the most valuable qualities Franklin offers, the kind not as easily found in big cities. He relays a story about a woman with whom he and Wendy became close after moving. Because of the friendship with her and her husband, the woman switched eye doctors and began seeing David. The first time she visited Vue Optique for a checkup, Dr. Shen found a malignant tumor concealed within one of her eyes.
“Whether it’s helping a child see clearly for the first time or allowing a person to visually function better–even saving someone’s life–it’s those types of relationships that you appreciate,” David says.
Located next to Starbucks at Five Points on Main Street, Vue Optique provides comprehensive and specialty eye care services, ranging from pediatric screenings to LASIK evaluations and contact lens fittings. Wendy helps run the optical boutique, which provides stylish eyewear that is often unique to the surrounding malls and Nashville area. The couple travels to New York several times a year, including during Fashion Week, so that they can keep up with the current trends.
The Shens’ style is evident in the Vue Optique décor, which David says was inspired by Soho boutiques in New York. The sleek design and retro furniture lends to a laid-back but modern aesthetic that David and Wendy have purposefully cultivated. Each part of the office was drawn from some architectural form in the Big Apple, like the beaded partition that resembles the W New York Hotel, or the Vue Optique logo that’s modeled after unique designs they encountered on their strolls through Manhattan.
“We mixed and matched styles. We put a lot of thought into the design and the name, Vue Optique, which means ‘optical sight’ in French,” David says.
This blend of old and new is another aspect that David and Wendy find attractive about Franklin. David notes that while it’s full of small-town Southern charm, Franklin also draws innovative personalities and, consequently, ideas.
“I love that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs here — people with dreams that you see created over time,” David says. “No questions that is unique to a town the size of Franklin.”
For more information, visit the Vue Optique website.