LLR Partners, winner of Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2017 Private Equity Firm of the Year, has formed an eye care practices company and acquired three practices.

The new platform company, Eye Health America, will provide management services for ophthalmology practices and surgery centers in the Southeast U.S. Its first three acquisitions are the Eye Associates, Clemson Eye and Piedmont Surgery Center, and all three practices will keep their current names under Eye Health America. The goal is to grow the company both through acquisitions and organically.

“As the market continues to consolidate, EHA aims to be the partner of choice to like-minded practices throughout the region seeking to accelerate growth and bring best-in-class care to patients,” says Sasank Aleti, principal at LLR Partners.

LLR Partners, a lower middle-market private equity firm based in Philadelphia, establishes and builds portfolio companies in technology and services businesses. The firm, founded in 1999, has raised more than $3 billion from investors in five funds. Mergers & Acquisitions’ named LLR its 2017 Private Equity Firm of the Year based partly on its flurry of recent deals. The firm was one of the most active middle-market PE firms in 2017, with 28 transactions: four new platform investments, 18 add-on acquisitions and six exits.

The medical and dental practices sector is a ripe area for middle market M&A. Recent related deals have included middle-market PE firm MidOcean Partners acquiring a majority stake in a dental practices network called Affinity Dental Management Holdings. Affinity offers management and administrative support services for dental practices in Western Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont so they can focus on clinical procedures.

Higher up the food chain, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), the biggest U.S. health insurer, recently agreed to buy DaVita Inc.’s physician network business for $4.9 billion. DaVita manages physician groupgroups in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington—300 clinics, 35 urgent-care centers and six outpatient surgery sites serving 1.7 million patients per year.

With the LLR Partners deal, Rod Roeser, an ophthalmology industry executive with more than 20 years of experience leading and integrating eye care practices, is Eye Health’s CEO. “As a combined force, we have the unique opportunity to not only expand each practice’s geographic footprint, increase their patient volumes and drive utilization, but also enable physicians to thrive in a value-based environment,” Roeser says. Roeser was previously was CEO of Thomas Eye Group in Atlanta, and before that was CEO of Horizon Eye Care in Charlotte, North Carolina, and president of the Cincinnati Eye Institute.

Eye Associates, based in Bradenton, Florida, has six offices, including an ambulatory surgery center. Clemson Eye in South Carolina is a 40-year-old medical and surgical eye care business with four offices. Piedmont Surgery Center, Greenville, South Carolina, is an ambulatory surgery center accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. In joining Eye Health America, the three practices aim to access additional management resources, administrative best practices, health system relationships and best-in-class technology, which would allow their physicians to focus on patient care and growth opportunities. Eye Health America will also support the expansion of its members’ service offerings in areas like contact lenses and LASIK surgeries. The range of services provided by the practices will include routine eye exams, contact lenses and glasses, medical ophthalmology and surgeries, such cataract, cornea, retina, glaucoma, pediatrics and procedures.

“We have a strong brand and loyal patient base in the Greenville area, but as we look to expand our reach and services, teaming up with Rod and LLR was the right next step in our growth strategy,” says Mary Lou Parisi, Clemson Eye’s CEO. “Their expertise in healthcare services and collaborative approach to working with physicians signaled that this would be a value-added partnership for our organization from the beginning.”