Aesthetic Medicine and Optometry

Aesthetic medicine is an umbrella term for all specialties that focus their efforts on improving the cosmetic appearance of patients. This can include treating wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, excess fat, unwanted hair, scars, etc. Currently most medical fields have a cosmetic component to them. These specialties include dermatologists, plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, cosmetic chiropractors and medical aestheticians just to name a few. Let’s break these down a bit more and take a deeper dive into the services  provided: 

Cosmetic dentistry  

Teeth whitening and teeth straightening  
Dental implants  
Teeth jewelry

Cosmetic chiropractic: 

Hair loss 

Cosmetic podiatry  
Improving the appearance of the foot  

Medical aesthetician: 
Chemical peels  
Laser hair removal  
Micro needling 

Aesthetics in optometry  

Optometry has been participating in the cosmetic industry for decades now. We assist our patients in carefully picking out frames that suit their faces to help them see—and look—their best. If patients don’t care for glasses, we turn them toward contact lenses, where they have options to get colored contact lenses as well to change their appearance. If they don’t like either of these options, then we consult with them for refractive surgery options. So why don’t we expand our services because we are so intimately interlinked with the cosmetic journey our patients take? 

The first signs of aging usually occur around the eyes and this puts optometrists in a unique position to capitalize on this and assist patients in making informed, safe and healthy choices.  

Baby boomers really want to slow down the hands of time and with this comes a skyrocketing demand for aesthetic services and cosmetic enhancement. The truth is that this “look as young as you feel” demand is here to stay.  

Why optometrists?  

Bills in the state legislatures are being introduced to expand the scope of optometry from minor surgeries, such as removing skin tags from the lid, to performing laser surgeries. We are qualified to prescribe, or administer, these procedures. In addition, we are more suited to treat the common side effects, which are often ocular-related. All in all, we are a safe choice to perform these particular types of services.  

What are some procedures you could employ at your office?  

(dependent upon state scope laws)  

In the past decade, there has been an enormous growth of cosmetic procedures that are ocular-related because the first signs of aging occur around the eye. These include microblading for fuller-looking eyebrows, eye lash extensions for thicker and longer lashes, under-eye care to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffy skin, supplementary nutrients for healthier skin, hair, nails, etc., and the general expansion of safer, healthier cosmetic products.  

Botulinum toxin (Botox)  

Most patients are aware of the cosmetic benefits of Botox to diminish the appearance of wrinkles caused by genetics, human expression or sun damage, but fewer are aware that it also is used therapeutically to treat conditions such as migraine headaches and benign essential blepharospasm. Chronic migraine patients commonly complain about visual disturbances, which leads them toward optometric care. Therefore, Botox can be used in office therapeutically, as well as cosmetically depending on patients’ needs.  


With aging comes the deceleration of collagen production causing skin to lose elasticity and firmness. This decrease in collagen results in fine lines and wrinkles, leaving people with smile lines, crow’s feet and other undesirable creases. Now there are many collagen-enhancing treatments to boost the collagen rebuilding process. One example is a noninvasive radio frequency solution that assists in reducing the appearance of unwanted fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen boosts are commonly intended to minimize the appearance of fine lines around the eyes, forehead and glabella.  

Hyaluronic acid  

Hyaluronic acid is a natural and potent anti-aging substance that is used to greatly boost moisture retention and maintain skin hydration, volume and suppleness. It scavenges free radicals and softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also is commonly found in treatments for dry eye.  

Poly-L lactic acid 

Used as a treatment for facial lipoatrophy, a loss of fat beneath the skin that results in the appearance of sunken cheeks, indentations and hollow eyes. 

Intense pulse light (IPL)  

IPL lasers have been commonplace in dermatology for treating a wide range of skin problems, including facial rosacea. Because studies have shown that 80-90 percent of patients suffering from facial rosacea also express ocular rosacea, these treatments improved patients’ ocular symptoms (dry eye) after IPL treatments for their facial rosacea. From a cosmetic standpoint, IPL has overwhelmingly been shown to improve hyperpigmentation, discoloration, softening of fine lines and wrinkles, erasing age spots, tightening laxed skin, and remove unwanted hair.  

Never underestimate the power of cosmetics  

We often view cosmetics simply as a tool to enhance our appearances, but it holds more power than just transforming appearances. It helps to transform the person and shapes their mindset. It helps to give that person confidence and happiness. We know from many psychological studies that when patients look and feel their best, they experience huge emotional and psychological benefits. The importance of appearances has always been a priority for patients, and the way that they feel about the way they look matters. Let’s face it: The importance of appearances affects all of us. We each want to put our best look forward. Cosmetic benefits are an intrinsic part of our mental health and boost our patients’ emotional well-being and self-esteem.  

Seeing the unique position that optometrists are in with our extensive knowledge of the ocular system, we should be very proactive in discussing cosmetic treatments with our interested patients who are commonly looking into these kinds of procedures. Let’s help make it safer and provide them with a fully educated opinion to help them make informed, healthy choices and avoid unnecessary risks. On the flip side, if our state optometric laws allow the performance of these procedures in office, we have an avenue to grow our practices and build a holistic venture. 

We are all driven by the desire to look young and feel confident in our appearance, and we as optometrists can incorporate that flourishing cosmetics market to ultimately help our patients see their best and be their best.

Story by Manzil Quadir, University of Houston College of Optometry


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