Peoples Drug Stores, which last month became the first drug chain in the nation to open dentists' offices in some of its stores, now is planning to add optometry to its list of health services.

The first optometrist's office will open next month in the Peoples store in Waterside Mall on M Street, S.W. in Washington, Peoples president Sheldon W. Fantle said.

The offices will be operated by Optometric Associates Inc., a firm founded by Dr. Michael L. Cohen, an Alexandria optometrist.

Fantle said putting optometrists in the store is the next step in the drug chain's plan to develop "family health care centers." Peoples has optical centers that fill prescriptions for eyeglasses in 45 of its more than 375 stores, and makes the glasses in its own optical laboratory.

The optometrists' offices will allow customers to have their eyes tested and buy their glasses in the same place, Fantle said.

The optometric and optical departments in the Waterside Mall store will be located next to that store's newly-opened dentist's office.

Like the dental offices, the optometric departments will be added to other stores later if the first units are successful.

Although first to offer dental services, Peoples is not the first drug chain to install an optometrist's office.

The Rodman's drug stores a Wisconsin Avenue and Garrison Streets, N.W. in Washington and at the Veirs Mill shopping center in Montgomery County have offices staffed by optometrist Donald Lawver.