“Eyewear has to become your asset”
IAPB Eye Health Hero, Dr Princess Ifeoma Ike, CEO and principal optometrist of Princess Vision Eye Clinic Limited in Abuja, Nigeria, on eyewear style, fashion icons and addressing avoidable visual impairment
26 March 2023
How many pairs of spectacles do you own?I have over 15 pairs of glasses and counting, with different types of lens coatings, that I like to rotate. For me, eyewear is not only a necessity but also an accessory.
What frame shapes, colours or styles do you usually go for?I have a good number of bigger cat’s eye frames in different colours. I feel they suit my face best and they are in fashion at the moment. I prefer acetate frames, especially because they lack nose pads and are a lot more comfortable for me, plus I can count on their durability.
Can you describe your favourite pair?Currently, I have no favourite pair as I am very driven by my mood, outfit and occasion so I base a lot of my styles on that. I wear a mixture of eyewear brands such as Gucci, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Burberry, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton to mention a few.
Who would you pick as your style icon when it comes to eyewear?My mum is the ultimate icon. I love her audacious frames and bold colour choices. Great eyewear has been part of her fashion statement for over 40 years. Safe to say, the apple doesn't fall far from its tree.
My mum is the ultimate icon. I love her audacious frames and bold colour choices
How long have you worn spectacles for, and what prompted you to go for your first sight test?I got my first spectacles back in secondary school. I was 11-years-old when my family optometrist noticed that I needed prescription spectacles to have comfortable binocular vision. I stopped after a few years and started wearing them again as an adult. Going forward I thought about switching it up and making it part of my ‘eye-dentity.’
What do good vision and eye health mean to you?They mean everything to me. Eyesight is one of our most important senses: 80% of what we perceive comes through our sense of sight. This is why my personal mission as an optometrist is to eliminate avoidable visual impairment and blindness in order to support people to become productive citizens and contribute to the socio-economic growth of their communities.
How important is eyewear to reflecting your personality?Eyewear is an integral part of me and my everyday life. Having eyewear that you like and feel comfortable in is hugely important. While it is important that your eyewear provides the correct level of protection, it is also an extension of you and how you express yourself to the world. The frame that you are wearing must represent who you are: eyewear has to become your asset.
Eyewear gives me power, motivates me, and gives me super comfortable vision. For me, the biggest compliments are the ones to my eyes and eyewear. I am so grateful to be in a position that offers others good vision that further projects their identity.
What are your top three tips for selecting the right pair of frames?
- It is important to choose a frame that suits your face shape
- Be open-minded about the style that works for you. Don’t just buy a frame because your friend or someone famous wears it. Eyewear should reflect your personality and not that of someone else
- Consider your lifestyle. There are frames for every way of life. Think about the activities you will do while wearing your eyeglasses. If you are always on the go, be sure to pick sturdy frames that can take a beating.
How did it feel to be named an Eye Health Hero 2021 by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) under the future leaders category?I was pleasantly surprised to be named an Eye Health Hero by the IAPB as it also came less than three months after my appointment as the national advocacy secretary of the Nigerian Optometric Association. Being one of the International Eye Health Heroes of 2021, the award was a confirmation that all the pain, perseverance and the hard work for almost a decade of service to give sight back to the people of my country and even beyond was not in vain. It truly re-ignited that passion in me to continue to help the visually impaired.
The award has become a stepping stone for leaders like myself to raise my international profile and expand my influence as an expert in the field of community eye care. Barely a year after being recognised, I was nominated as one of the five and youngest World Sight Day Photo Competition Judges for 2022 amongst other associated privileges. I sincerely appreciate the IAPB team for their constant show of support to me.
In addition to being an Eye Health Hero, you are also a climate reality leader. What does this involve? Does this play into your optometry advocacy?For me, the effects of climate change are not just planetary, but human. As a climate reality leader trained by the former US vice president, Al Gore, and a practicing optometrist in Nigeria, the effects of climate change on health and eye care is certainly not new to us. My role involves educating people about climate change and how we can solve it.
The human eye is susceptible to changes in environmental factors, such as increased incidence in trachoma infections due to high temperatures and low rainfall, vitamin A deficiency from food insecurity, additional cases of cataract by 2050 from rising UV exposure, and severe allergic diseases, to mention a few.
This is why my focus on eye health advocacy for 2023 is to amplify the connection that exists between climate change and eye health through publications, and online eye health communication towards achieving a range of inclusive, mitigation and adaptation strategies for all.
Building this brand with the support of family and a few colleagues has been one of the most fulfilling journeys I have ever ventured on
In 2022, Princess Vision Eye Clinic Limited marked a 10 year anniversary. What did that milestone mean for you?
Building this brand with the support of family and a few colleagues has been one of the most fulfilling journeys I have ever ventured on. I grew up seeing close relatives lose their vision mainly because of lack of knowledge, unavailability, and inaccessibility of good eye care services. As I got older, I became more uncomfortable with that narrative. When we started this journey, our mission was to bridge the yawning gap in the provision and delivery of affordable, available, accessible, and appropriate eye care services that meet the needs of everyone irrespective of their social class. 10 years later, here I am making an impact, transforming lives, and promoting good eye health practices. There is no better feeling and I remain grateful to God.
Dr Princess Ifeoma Ike is CEO and principal optometrist of the Princess Vision Eye Clinic Limited in Abuja Nigeria, a 2021 IAPB Eye Health Hero, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper.