Dr. Tiffany’s Transformational March 2022 Black Eyecare Tips

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Happy Melanin March! Happy Women’s History Month! Happy Workplace Eye Wellness Month!

Did you know that you can contract COVID through your eyes? We now know that COVID is transmitted through mucosal membranes, mainly the nose and mouth. But the eyes, specifically the conjunctivae are also a mucosal membrane. A mucosal membrane is composed of epithelial cells that act as a barrier between the body and the external world. ” A large study showed that 19% of health-care workers became infected [with COVID-19], despite wearing three-layered surgical masks, gloves, and shoe covers and using alcohol rub. After the introduction of face shields, no worker was infected.” As optometrists and optometry students we work closer to a patient’s mouth than any other medical specialty besides dentistry. In our workplace, at the slit lamp, a patient’s mouth is about 8 inches away from the eye care provider (ECP), thus exposing ourselves to not only COVID but any airborne/droplet-based disease including influenza, and the common cold. Ask any optometrist if they’ve noticed the rate of communicable diseases they’ve caught in the past two years, and I bet they’ll share that their overall health has been much better since we started wearing masks and protective eyewear. Consider the use of safety glasses or prescription glasses while working with patients moving forward, not only to protect yourself from COVID but to also preserve your overall health and wellness. 

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Our second tip of the month for Melanin March and Women’s History Month is to recognize three Black female optometrists who have transformed the eye care industry in modern times. First, we have Dr. Nishan Pressley also known as @askDrNish. Dr. Pressley was the first Black person to graduate from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University’s 3-year accelerated optometry program. Dr. Pressley was also a guest panelist for our inaugural HBCU Impact event. I consider her the first Black optometry influencer. She has brought optometry into the forefront of Black culture through her informative and fun reels on IG and TikTok. Although she has been practicing for the shortest time of our group, I would argue her transformational impact is increasing and will only continue to do so. 

Next, we have the groundbreaking Dr. Danielle Richardson. She is a graduate of Indiana University College of Optometry. She was one of our panelists for our Second Annual Impact HBCU event and a guest speaker at BEPPOC last September. Dr. Richardson is transformational in that she was one of the first optometrists to combine wellness and optometry. “She runs a holistic wellness company, Fierce Clarity, where she hosts wellness retreats, yoga classes, and pop-up events for professional women to help manage stress and avoid burnout.” Her contributions to optometry are innumerable and I look forward to continuing to see her rise. You can follow her on IG, TikTok and YouTube @FierceClarity and @Drdaniellerichardson

Last but not least, Dr. Janelle Davison. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University and resides in metro Atlanta. Dr. Davison is transformational in that she is on the leading edge of dry eye management, she is a mentor through her non-profit S.C.O.R.E. Inc. and CEO of Brilliant Eyes Vision Center. She is one of the first Black women to venture into the ocular aesthetics space and is killing the game at Premier Dry Eye Spa, IG: @premier_dry_eye. Dr. Davison is the Dry Eye Mentor on IG, her content is informative and relatable. More recently, she and her husband have founded Paradeyem, “a unique bundling software that can help private practice ECP increase revenue, efficiency and peace of mind.” Dr. Davison is consistently evolving, she is truly a woman to watch!

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