Dr. Samantha Rao’s EyeDocTravels Is all About Eyecare and Traveling

By

Samantha Rao, OD
NEW YORK—Since Samantha Rao, OD, started her Instagram page, EyeDocTravels, in April of this year, the page has really taken off. Created out of her love for eyecare and traveling, EyeDocTravels chronicles Rao’s different adventures around the globe as well as some unique eye conditions she encounters in her daily life as a practitioner at an eye surgery center in New York City. EyeDocTravels has garnered over 1,000 followers since its inception six months ago.

“I wanted to build a social media presence from which I can share my life, connect with other health care professionals to share knowledge and interesting cases, and educate the public on eye conditions and on what optometrists do,” Rao stated. “I also wanted to share more about my specialty within optometry, which is in fitting custom rigid contact lenses for patients with corneal disease.”

Because EyeDocTravels is about the things that interest her, Rao finds curating content for the page quite easy. She updates both her feed and Instagram Stories at least two to three times per week depending on how busy she is. “In the optometry realm, I post everything from fun eye accessories to interesting cases and patient education—some of my posts have discussed dry eye, scleral lenses, how diabetes affects the eye, and good contact lens habits,” Rao explained.

“For my travel posts, I like to post short stories, fun facts and travel tips along with some of my photos to make the posts more engaging and useful.” Rao also uses Instagram Stories to share snippets of her life in New York and answer questions from followers. She has also used hashtags such as #verifyhealthcare, #contactlenshealthweek and #myoptomstory, which are a part of different campaigns that help educate the public and create connections between health care professionals around the world.

Rao’s life as a practitioner has significantly influenced her Instagram account. “Many of my posts and stories are inspired by questions that my patients ask me, such as what causes flashes and floaters, how scleral contact lenses work, and why all contact lenses are not created equal,” Rao said.

   

“I most enjoy posting about the cases that move me and where I have the opportunity to make a big difference in a person’s life, which are often my custom contact lens cases. As an optometrist in New York City, I see patients from many different walks of life, and it shocks me that there are still so many people out there with corneal conditions like keratoconus that have no idea that specialty contact lenses exist that can dramatically improve their vision.”
For Rao, Instagram is the best platform for her content because of its ease of access; it allows the creation of eye-catching, easily shareable posts, and has the potential to reach a huge and diverse audience, according to Rao. She said, “Health care professionals are a growing presence on Instagram and it’s such a great medium because it lends itself to being used on-the-go in the middle of a busy day. Instagram is also great for networking and connecting with new people—simply leaving a thoughtful comment on a colleague’s post can lead to great conversations and even friendships.”

  

Though it can be challenging to juggle the account and her busy schedule, the most gratifying aspect of EyeDocTravels for Rao is how eye-opening the page can be for people outside the industry. “The most rewarding aspect has been hearing from my followers that they didn’t realize just how much optometrists do. I have also loved getting to connect with other health care professionals and optometry students—getting messages from students asking for advice is just the best.”

Moving forward, Rao—who is also working on launching an EyeDocTravels blog—hopes that her page inspires people to lead more balanced lives. “I hope that visiting my Instagram will show people the vital role that optometrists play in the health care system and will also inspire people to prioritize that elusive work-life balance—maybe plan a trip and just enjoy life,” Rao said.

“It’s so easy as a recent graduate in the medical field to feel pressure from student loans and financial goals and end up working six or even seven days a week. Watching for flight deals and booking a spontaneous weekend getaway can do wonders for a person’s mental health and help doctors avoid burnout, stay excited about their careers and be a better doctor for their patients.”