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Make-up is the leading cause of eye problems in women

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By Morenike Taire

Dr. Samsedi John, a consultant optometrist   and official of the executive committee of the Optometry Society of Nigeria has seen, through his private and public practices, no less than ten thousand patients. Awarded the 2008 Young Optometrist of the year by his association, his productive chat with Lipstick throws light on common eye issues and the various reasons people shy away from discovering and addressing them, as well as why “people will rather spend 15,000 naira to get an aso ebi than pay 5,000 or 2,000 to get an eye exam.”

Are you referring to ladies?

For the men they don’t want to give their wives money but they are ready to spend whatever. They tend to be more proactive. The women are a little bit laid back especially if they are dependent but those ones that are independent go out of their way to do whatever they can. Children are suffering.

There are no dull children, only dull parents. Your child tells you, “ I can’t see the tv, I have to move close” and you say “God forbid! Your mother did not wear glasses, your mother did not wear glasses so you will not because they assume that when you see the doctor you must wear glasses. There is therapy. Expensive, but it’s worth it. People believe that wearing glasses is a taboo, a curse.

A lot of people especially ladies are concerned that when they wear glasses their eyes will go in.

That is a myth. In physics there is what we call real depth and apparent depth. Real depth is the real position between the top and the bottom or both ends of the container while the apparent depth is what you think the depth is but it is not. When you wear glasses people no longer see the position of your eyeball because the glasses actually does what we call refraction- bending of light rays.

*Dr. Samsedi John
*Dr. Samsedi John

Most of the people that wear glasses can see but struggle to see adequately. Vision has to do with the total human being. For myopic patients the eyeball tends to be longer while for hyperopic patients they tend to be shorter. What the lens do is to bend the light rays to focus on the retina. The number one mistake people make is, glasses correct the sight. Glasses only correct the light. Your eyes will remain the same.

When you are looking at somebody through the eye of a lens you no longer see the real position, you are getting the apparent depth depending on the prescription. If it is a very high prescription you are going to get a very significant apparent depth. You assume that is the position of the eye so when he now takes it off …

For someone’s eyes to go backwards it’s the result of a disease condition.

What causes this disease?

It can be an injury that was not treated.   The gel in the eyes has found a way to escape. There was a day I saw a   vulcanizer with a screwdriver in the eye. It is the only organ that is awake when you are asleep. If lens could correct your eyes then mirrors can correct your body.

What of contact lenses? Are they good? Some use contact lenses without prescription. What is the implication of that?

None. Contact lenses have been widely abused but they are very good. In fact they have some advantages   over spectacle prescriptions because they come in contact with your eyeballs. Even salons sell contact lenses. I have seen somebody selling contact lenses side by side with egg roll then when the person picks up a problem you now say contact lenses are bad.

Some of the disadvantages is that wearer can easily pick up infections if the rules are not properly followed. The advantages   is that it’s sitting right on the cornea. Some people sleep with contact lenses. You are not supposed to sleep with contact lenses.

What if you fall asleep?

That should be in the afternoon. You are supposed to take if off at 7. A lot of people who have problems disobey the rules

But are there people that are disqualified from using contact lenses?

Yes, people that have dry eyes syndrome. The tear production is not adequate and one   thing that makes contact lenses beautiful to use is when the person produces tears sufficiently. There is a test we do for patients who want to wear contact lenses.

It’s like someone wants to get married and you are asked to do a fertility test or a sperm count test but people here will just go to the clinic and it will only take a hunger doctor that is not disciplined to just go ahead and prescribe contact lenses. Even glasses have their rules. You see people that come and say “these glasses have expired”. Glasses cannot expire. They don’t know how to care for the lenses.

What of false eyelashes and make-up. There was a rumour way back that this kajal eyeliner was making people go blind. How true is that?

When you look at some of these make-up materials, some of them have preservatives that are not good for the eyes. 35% of my patients and 50% or more that are ladies- majority of their problems are make-up related.

What do you have to look out for?

The good ones are expensive. Really, good things don’t come cheap. A good wife does not come cheap. You need to work extra hard. You have products that have been designed   for most eye types to tolerate. You have allergenic products and non allergenic products. When we buy things we don’t look at the contents to see if there’s anything that will not be good for your body

Unless you have had experiences

People should go through the contents of their products to see the agents there that is if they even know the agents that cause problems in the first place. Hypoallergenic means it actually has low   products there that will trigger allergic reactions.

You will see some people after they’ve worn their make up they will come and say they feel there is a foreign body sensation in their eye and the eye is itching terribly. What the cure is for some of them, I just tell them, “can you just stop your make up for three days and come back”. 90 plus percent of the time they tell me the thing has reduced

Does allergy have a negative impact on your sight?

No. it may blur the vision because when you begin to itch the temptation is to want to rub. When you rub the eye you are actually increasing your chances of itching more. You release more histamine cells which encourages you to rub more.

I know a lot of beauty therapists tell you to remove all eye makeup if you are going to bed. Does it make any difference?

Exercise caution when you use makeup. Not every product is good for everybody, even your normal bathing soap. Some people may use lux soap and they will react to it meanwhile some people can use soda and nothing will happen. You should know your skin type first. Know your facial build.

Some people use makeup and you laugh at them. They begin to paint themselves. You should study yourself. Even when you choose frames for people, if it’s somebody that wears a lot of blue or green makeup there’s a tone of frame. It’s just because of money problems we now do it on the basis of the money in your pocket. You look at the tone of the hair, if you are wearing a wig, the tone of the skin, is it caramel, is it fair?

So is there supposed to be a blend?

There’s supposed to be a blend, not colour riot of shape riot. There is what we call first degree fusion, second degree fusion and third degree fusion. First degree is the ability to distinguish between shapes. Second degree is the ability to distinguish between colours and third degree is the ability to distinguish depth. Some cannot tell these shapes don’t match, not to talk of colour. Purple here, red here, all over the place. I buy a lot of fashion magazine.

There are   things you are supposed to clean around your eyes. Baby wipers, cleansers, optrex, eye wash. The softest skin in your body is the eyelid.

Are there any local products that will do. People are now so much into traditional alternatives. Some people tell you honey is good for your eyes or aloe vera…

Anything that has   not been able to go through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved for a particular function… there is no gbogbonise (one drug that can cure everything). I was listening to a program on radio. I was ashamed of the station- how could they allow such a native doctor minded person?

Somebody asked a question about cataracts so he asked the person to mix honey with milk and water and put it into eyedrop container and be putting it in the eye. I wished I could enter into the radio and squeeze him. People do all kinds of things, seemingly educated people. I’ve seen somebody in a position of authority in this state told me she uses the children’s urine when the children have Apollo.

Maybe the vaccine principle to get antibodies…

Why is it called waste products. My concern is the ocular region. Some people shave off their eyebrows. I don’t want to touch mine

You are a man

You can brush it. I have seen people trying to shave and the cut themselves very deep. People may not have allergies in any other part of their body but their eyes.

How often should you have an eye exam?

Ideally before a child goes to school he should have an eye exam, before admitting the child. Age 2, 3, by the time you are 18, once you are above 40, every year, because there are problems like glaucoma that are age related.


Nigeria as a sovereign country cried out in one voice when the first legal gay marriage was conducted and when a gay priest was accepted in an Anglican church. There were demonstrations at the National Assembly in Nigeria against the bill, sponsored in 2011, that was set to prohibit gay associations and civil unions by mostly rent-a-crowd groups. That, and other attempts for the lawmakers to see reason failed, and a law has finally been passed prohibiting not only gay marriage but every gay alliance and association. And the law is very, very popular.

Finally, Nigeria appears to understand that it is important to find Nigerian solutions to Nigerian problems, and that   policies that are unpopular elsewhere might as well be popular in Nigeria if they are going to be of value to Nigerians.

When the Chinese Deng Xiaoping took over the reins in 1978 he knew that for the party to regain legitimacy, it would have to achieve economic growth, and a small group of technocrats, headed by rocket scientist Song Jian, persuaded him that for China to meet its economic targets for the year 2000, its population would have to be restricted to 1.2 billion.

The one-child policy they proposed was swiftly introduced: couples in China could have only one child, or in the countryside two if the first child was a girl. The production of children became as subject to state targets and quotas as the production of other resources.

30 years later this   experiment in social engineering is still in force. Two generations of children have grown up without siblings, uncles, aunts or cousins. Women have lost sovereignty of their bodies. The state owns their ovaries, fallopian tubes and wombs, and has become the third participant in every act of love.

While the Chinese economy grows in leaps and bounds, the future of the Chinese society is doomed by laws such as this. The same is the case with   Nigeria’s new anti-gay law, which criminalizes human functions and human choices. The use of a law is in the organization of society, and any law that criminalizes personal choices which have no clear effects on other citizens and the rest of society is necessarily a bad law.

Of course, like virtually every law in the country, the problem will not be with the promulgation, but of application.


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