Milton Grin is more than just a microsurgeon. The Kansas City-area physician started his own ophthalmology practice in 1989, but later discovered another passion: design. Grin’s latest undertaking, Milton Eyewear, marries his dedication to treatment with his eye for quality product. The glasses, created with the help of Kansas City artist Dani Maslan, are inspired by Grin’s many travels overseas.
What inspired you to create your own line of eyewear?
I’m a microsurgeon, and I already take care of patients’ eyes in the surgical world. I also prescribe glasses, and I always had an interest in design. My world was art, architecture and design growing up. It’s an exciting endeavor for me.
What sets Milton apart from other eyewear brands on the market?
It’s a creative, intelligent, more sophisticated line of eyewear. A lot of it has to do with my travel overseas. I’m very drawn to European high fashion, and I also like the air of Art Deco. The names of the glasses are places I’ve been or places I’m attached to. They all have special meaning to me. I’ve either traveled there or have a home there. Our glasses sort of say “See the world.”
What’s the biggest challenge in designing eyewear?
We manufacture our glasses in the U.S., and production in America is very difficult. There are very few companies that do that. Most do it in China. We source materials from Italy, and our hinges are made in Germany. Designing wasn’t as difficult as having things made in the United States.
How would you describe the Milton customer?
The Milton customer is looking for high quality, intelligent eyewear. They’re not on the low-end. When people wear them, they’re like “Wow, this is cool stuff.” And that’s a statement in itself.
In 2000, Grin and his family took a sabbatical to Switzerland, where he had lived as a child. Because of their involvement with the Medical Missions Foundation, the Grins were able to serve medical missions while overseas.
During their year-long stint in Switzerland, Grin and his wife traveled to Romania for the foundation. Grin performed cataract surgery on patients suffering from blindness, while his wife performed strabismus surgery for patients who were cross-eyed.
“There’s really not blindness in the U.S. from cataracts,” Grin says. “But when you go to foreign countries, you could have 200 patients waiting in line for a week for surgery.”
The overwhelming need for care in Romania made a lasting impression on Grin, who witnessed the transformation of a number of young children by the ability to see again.
“It’s very rewarding for the doctor,” Grin says. “You’re really treating what you’re trained for.”
The Grins were also able to instruct international doctors on the latest surgical technology to improve treatment of the underprivileged.
“There’s a huge need in the world,” Grin says. “We try to give back as much as anybody else.”