ST. THOMAS — Sterling Optical has sharpened its vision on St. Thomas, offering quality eyewear and services in a new luxury setting.

Sterling Optical was first opened by CEO Joel Mahepath and his wife, Dr. Lisa Adams-Mahepath, on St. Croix in 1997. Dr. Adams-Mahepath is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and a doctor of optometry degree from Pennsylvania College.

During the course of more than two decades, Dr. Adams-Mahepath has made a notable impact in the field of optometry in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The St. Croix native is the first local doctor of optometry and optical coherence tomography ophthalmologist. Additionally, the doctor is the first female — and first local — to serve on the Board of Optometrical Examiners in the Virgin Islands. Her husband and business partner spent 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry before transitioning to eye care. He also served as adjunct professor at UVI, teaching business at the undergraduate and MBA levels.

The goal at Sterling Optical is to provide the community with comprehensive eye examinations, treatment of ocular conditions, style-conscious eyewear and quality contacts at value prices, offering only top-of-the-line brands in lenses and contacts. For progressive lenses, Sterling Optical offers only Varilux lenses. Transitions are the only photochromic option and Crizal is the only anti-reflective offered.

By 1999, Sterling Optical was ready to expand to St. Thomas. They were one of the first businesses established in the mini mall in Lockhart Gardens, where they have remained for close to 22 years.

The team at Lockhart Gardens is a mixture of professionals new to the team and long-term employees. Dixie Ann Tang Yuk has been with Sterling Optical since its inception on St. Croix. When the St. Thomas location opened, she moved to the island to manage the store. Kevin Webster, the lab manager, has been with Sterling Optical for 20 years. New to the team are optometrist Dr. Michelle Cadet-Honore, who joined the practice last year, and Roland Capati Dula, their optician trainee and customer service representative.

In 2017, the St. Croix location underwent a transformation with a new elegant décor. With the recent opportunity to move to a downstairs storefront location in Lockhart Gardens, they decided to bring the St. Thomas location up to the same upscale standards. Despite the challenges of COVID and its effect on the supply chain, the build out started in June, with a soft opening in November. The ribbon cutting was celebrated last week.

“We wanted to provide a better environment on St. Thomas such as we do on St. Croix,” said Mahepath before the ceremony. “We felt we wanted to bring St. Thomas on a par, because this is our home. For your home, you want to have your castle, so we can have the best optical business and give the best that we can to our customers.”

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. echoed that sentiment in his speech and added that in these times of low economic activity, it is good to see some people providing a seat of hope by taking risks in the community.

Beside an upgraded luxury décor, the location boasts new state-of-the-art eye care equipment. In the pre-test room, there is a new autorefractor, and in the exam room, there is a Nidek6100 Refractor, both the latest in technology around the world.

“Someone just mentioned to me that they feel like they are in the United States,” said Mahepath during his speech. “Well, we are in the United States, the United States Virgin Islands, and we’ve brought Madison Avenue to St. Thomas.”

Sterling Optical makes a point of giving back. With their commitment to community involvement through education, they established the Adams-Mahepath Scholarship in 2002 for graduating seniors in the Virgin Islands. To date, they have awarded almost half a million dollars to 195 students.

“I’m grateful and thankful to be present today, despite all the difficulties that we faced with the hurricanes of 2017 and the pandemic that is affecting the world,” said Mahepath. “Thank you to the community for 24 years of unwavering support and patronage on St. Croix and 22 years on St. Thomas. We are totally indebted to their kindness.”