Zoolandometry

By Derek N. Cunningham, OD, Chief Medical Editor

“I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.”

For our patients though, this is usually a high priority, and what our patients value and ask for is what we should provide. The aesthetics and beauty industries dwarf eye care. This is obvious, as we see many of our patients spend extensive amounts of time daily to alter or enhance their appearance with an endless array of products. (It would be great if our warm compresses or lid scrubs were that important to them!) Many of these products are used on or around the eyes—that’s our world. So, how comfortable are we with the invasion of these products into our world?

When is the last time you pointed out to patients the negative health effects of paving over their meibomian glands with eyeliner? Have you ever had a patient ask you if tattooed eyeliner is safe? Is it? Add to the mix the discomfort of weighing in on a patient’s personal appearance, even though it involves the part of the body that only we know best.

How many credit hours did you spend learning about personal aesthetics or addressing the psychological issues of altering one’s appearance? Thinking about this on a broader scale, how many hours did your patients spend learning how to use makeup? How do most women learn to put on makeup—from their 12-year-old friends? We intimately understand ocular and facial anatomy and the interactions between these products and the eyes and skin. We can comprehend what patients are trying to achieve through their use of cosmetics. I do not think anyone is as qualified as an optometrist to educate the public on ocular cosmetics (that includes you fellas, as “metro” as it may feel).

It has been said that moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty. How many times have you been asked, “What is the best eye cream? What is the best face cream?” Do you gloss over these questions? If you address them, what is your source for validated information? Although this discussion may initially seem nonmedical, all of these products have significant interactions with the ocular adnexa. If patients don’t seek us out as an authoritative source on facial products, where do they go? Dermatologists don’t have slit lamps, plastic surgeons don’t have extensive eye education, and the counter girl at Macy’s only has her product detail. Can we confidently educate our patients on eye products on the market?

This thought process is the genesis for this annual issue. We want to help you sort through the massive world of aesthetics and provide a compass so that you can become a trusted source for your patients. I hope our profession can contribute to the day when there is a uniform accepted answer to, “What can I do about these bags under my eyes?” We, as optometrists, are perfectly positioned to become publicly trusted authorities in the field of ocular and facial aesthetics. AOC wants to be the runway partner as we position our profession as the supermodel of facial aesthetics.

If we as a profession don’t continually change to help the evolving needs of our patients, pretty soon, they’ll be reading our “eugoogaly”!

Derek N. Cunningham, OD

Chief Medical Editor