A Chitta Change
My experience with yoga made me excited about practicing optometry.
VERONICA RUELAS, O.D., NEW YORK, N.Y.
Despite living in both Manhattan and Miami while maintaining a successful optometric practice, I felt unfulfilled. In yearning for something different; to find what was missing, I chose to live in an ashram (a monastery of yoga philosophy) in Paradise Island, the Bahamas, in the spring of 2008.
A personal transformation
During my ashram studies, I learned about Karma yoga, or selfless service. Something shifted in me due to this lesson, and I came to believe it was my obligation to help others. In realizing I possessed eyecare skills that could aid the less fortunate, I embarked on my first international volunteer eye-care mission trip that summer.
The medical mission was in the Peru mountains, and I quickly learned the challenges of running a successful free clinic (e.g. lack of electricity, needed prescriptions, etc.)
Upon returning to New York, I was introduced by one of my Bahama yoga teachers to a monk who operated an ashram in the Himalayan Mountains of India. This monk had been operating a small medical clinic for the local villages there for decades. He agreed to hold an eye camp. So that September, I arrived in India with ocular medication and several thousand eyeglasses.
After two months and the desire to make a change in the world, ThirdEyeVision Camps (http://thirdeyevision.org) were born. We run an eye camp in the same place in India every year, and perform additional missions as we can throughout the world. The eye camps provide glasses, medications and surgery (whenever possible).
I ran the New York City Marathon to raise thousands of dollars for my eye camps, and I created AshramChic (www.shopashramchic.com), a yoga lifestyle company, to help fund ThirdEyeVision.
Dr. Ruelas performing a comprehensive eye exam on a local villager in India.
A recent trip
In September, I returned to India for my largest mission to date. My team consisted of three optometrists, one ophthalmologist and an additional support staff of three — all of whom traveled from all over the world. Their goal: to utilize the new clinical building and surgical theater as well as train local staff on standardized international primary eye care. Patients traveled many miles by foot and eagerly waited hours in line for their very first eye exam.
Looking forward, ThirdEyeVision is working on providing an autorefractor and implementing a categorized spectacles library to provide ongoing vision correction for the neighboring villages.
Back in N.Y.
I recently opened my own practice: ThirdEyeChic Optometry in New York, N.Y. As I am an advanced certified yoga and meditation practitioner, I’ve chosen to combine optometry with yoga, and I advise my patients on simple stress reduction techniques through proper breathing, diet, exercise, relaxation, meditation and positive thinking. New Yorkers are open and eager to learn.
By blending my worlds of yoga and optometry, I have created an outlet and platform that fulfills me in ways I never dreamed possible. OM
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