When Dr. Richard Orlando opened his ophthalmology practice on Frantz Road, it was an unpaved, two-lane road.

When Dr. Richard Orlando opened his ophthalmology practice on Frantz Road, it was an unpaved, two-lane road.

But during the past 30 years both Dublin and Columbus Ophthalmology Associates have grown.

Just as Dublin grew from a village to a bustling city, Orlando's practice has grown from a one-doctor office to a company with an eye surgery center, two optical shops and three satellite offices.

"I've gone from one employee to almost 80 now," Orlando said.

The opportunity to open a practice in Dublin came from a Dublin doctor Orlando met doing an internship at Riverside Hospital.

"Over the years I got to know (Dr. Carpenter)," Orlando said. "He told me 'We'd love to have an ophthalmologist in Dublin.' "

Most eye doctors were located near hospitals and while Orlando knew he wanted to branch out and be away from downtown Columbus, Dublin seemed too far away.

"Dublin to me was all the way out there in 'nowhereville,' " he said. "I'd gone out to referee a game in Dublin. I thought, 'Who would live out here?' "

But Orlando found himself opening an office in a building with other doctors and moving his wife and first child to Dublin soon after that.

"I wanted to be in a place that was going to grow," he said. "There were things happening on the northwest side of town. Honda was opening ... Muirfield was built."

And grow it did.

As Dublin grew in the '80s and '90s -- celebrating its new city status in 1987 -- Orlando saw an increasing number of patients as word spread among families and friends.

"In the '80s and early '90s we opened an office near Mt. Carmel Hospital East and then another way out in the Granville, Newark area," Orlando said.

"We looked for the opportunities and both turned out to be right on. (Interstate) 270 changed all of Columbus, especially Dublin. We did it at the right time by taking good care of people and putting patients first."

Like Dublin, Orlando tried to manage growth responsibly.

"In ophthalmology we have so many areas you need specific surgeries in," Orlando said.

"I specialize in geriatrics and cataract. I saw a need for pediatric (care) so we brought in that specialty. We saw people getting older with glaucoma, so we brought in a surgeon for that."

In 1999, Columbus Ophthalmology moved to its current 10,000-square-foot facility at 5155 Bradenton Ave.

To serve its more than 40,000 customers, the group has expanded to include the specialties of cataracts, glaucoma, LASIK and refractive surgery, oculoplastics and comprehensive eye care.

"Our mission here is to preserve and restore vision," Orlando said.

"It's been our mission since Day One," he said.

"Our priorities are in everything we do. Every time someone walks into our office we know the most precious sense we have is our sight.

"Everyone wants to be able to see a sunset, read a book, see grandchildren (or) play golf ... . They trust us. They want to keep their sight."

To meet that goal, Orlando said, he's worked to expand to meet the needs of patients and create a caring staff.

"I tell them the greatest satisfaction you'll have is the gratitude you get from patients," he said. "That's what sets us aside.

"It's been a great 30 years and I hope we have another 30 years."