Ashley O’Dwyer, OD, aka the Dry Eye Guru, Aims to Change Patients’ Mindsets

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Ashley O’Dwyer has been a practicing optometrist for just over a year and she has hit the ground running. In February of this year, she created thedryeyeguru.com in an effort to educate patients about different causes and treatments of dry eye disease. “I started realizing a majority of my female patients had dry eye disease, and it had never been addressed before,” Dwyer told VMail Weekend.

“A lot of these patients had lifestyle factors involved that were not necessarily environmental. For example, patients would have different inflammatory conditions (Sjogrens, Rheumatoid, Chron's disease), they smoked, were overweight, had diabetes or were in a constant state of stress, anxiety or depression due to events in their lives. The website is a way I can explore increasing health through a mindset and better overall health to increase eye health.”

For O’Dwyer, the focus should be on the eye as a singular organ, as well as on the overall health of the patient. “I had been listening to podcasts from leaders outside of optometry and how they managed their lives and their takes on health and wellness, even medicine. I then realized that the medical field as a whole, has begun the shift toward functional medicine where doctors are treating the body as a whole instead of just one organ at a time, with a heavy focus on nutrition and movement over medicinal treatment. This made me begin to shift my thinking and ask the question, ‘why would the eye be any different?’”

When it comes to selecting topics, O’Dwyer writes about things that she is curious about, that she knows her readers will also be curious about. “Topics I write about are questions or thoughts that come to me, and I want an answer to. I do the research myself, which helps me gain a better understanding, and then I give it out,” she said. “Everything I talk about is either dry eye related, mindset related, or nutrition related (so far). Most of the mindset related posts are things I currently am working on in my life. I believe that there is always something more to learn, so I am constantly challenging my beliefs and gaining new ones.”

  

O’Dwyer is a full-time practitioner at Great Lakes Vision Care in Monroe, Mich. Due to time constraints, constantly keeping the blog up-to-date isn’t always easy, so she has utilized Instagram to get her message across. “The Instagram page is a combination of what I am doing with my mindset work combined with dry eye disease. I am working to motivate women to ultimately live their best lives, which coincidently will improve overall health and therefore minimize eye dryness.” She updates the page at least three times a week and utilizes live videos and Instagram stories to add more content.

  

Though the blog is only a few months old, O’Dwyer is excited to see how it grows as she grows as a practitioner in the industry. “The reward is knowing I’m helping women change their lives. You never know when an inspiring post or helpful information can have a ripple effect on somebody’s day,” she said. “I hope the takeaway is that overall health is king. Nutrition is king. Feeding your mind and body well will pay off.“