Stephanie Sengwe" />

Vady Khalil Instagram Page Is as a ‘Beacon of Light’ for Potential OD Students

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For Vady Khalil, a second-year optometry student at the Western University of Health Sciences—College of Optometry, his journey to the U.S. was not an easy one. Khalil came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2008 after having migrated within the Middle East for five years. His father, who was an employee at the United Nations in Iraq, was severely injured when his office building was bombed in August of 2003 and eventually had to be moved to Europe for treatment, causing Khalil to be separated from his family—his mother and two younger brothers moved to London to be with his father while he and his sister moved to Jordan.

After living in Jordan for two years, Khalil and his sister were once again forced to move to Syria because without Jordanian citizenship, they couldn’t complete their education. After spending three years in Syria, he finally came to the U.S. in 2008 and is now an optometry student.

In February of 2018, Khalil decided to transform his then personal Instagram page into The Photometrist—an eyewear photography-based, carefully curated page, with a distinctive rustic aesthetic. “I was always a visual person and had a passion for photography,” Khalil explained. “I always loved wearing glasses even with a small prescription as mine because I believe that it is a fashionable accessory for your face.”

But more than just showcasing pretty pictures, Khalil also wanted his Instagram page to serve as a beacon of light for potential optometry students, especially those from the Middle East. “Instagram was the perfect platform to showcase my love for photography and everything eye related from glasses to sharing my journey as an optometry student,” Khalil stated. “But I also wanted to inspire people to choose optometry, especially people from the Middle East where I am originally from, and to raise awareness about how important it is to take care of our vision.”

The Photometrist features images of various pairs of sunglasses from companies such as Twenty4K, Zyloware, and Eyewear Spinoza & GoNY mostly in the flat lay style, as well as images of Khalil’s day-to-day life as an optometry student—from the latest conference he’s attended, to photos with friends in school. Sometimes, he’ll even flex his culinary skills and post an image of a meal he has made.

Though his 1,481 followers may not be able to tell, the process of content-curation can be at times difficult for Khalil because as a full-time student he has a limited amount of time to dedicate to the page. “Creating quality and original content takes a lot of time,” he told VM. “From thinking about it, to sometimes shopping for [for the frame], taking the flat lay photograph (or a standard one) then editing it to match the overall theme of my page, all takes time. I try to be creative in displaying the eyewear because I am sort of a perfectionist and appreciate the attention to detail, especially being an influencer for a few brands. I’m responsible to present them in a creative photograph.”

Despite his busy schedule, Khalil tries to update The Photometrist at least once a week because he sees the benefits of being active and engaging with the optical community while still in school. Maintaining a visible presence on social media, he says, allows for an expansion of opportunities. “Being an optometry student is definitely stressful but at the same time there are so many opportunities to go outside the norm and explore our field,” he stated.

Despite the challenges, Khalil’s efforts with The Photometrist seem to have paid off. Since he’s become more active on social media, he has been asked to be an influencer for several eyewear brands after they visited his page; one of his paintings won an Allergan competition which provided him with a travel grant to attend Optometry’s Meeting in Denver last June; he was also interviewed by Defocus Media and Johnson & Johnson and spoke about how he started his account and why doctors should be more active on social media.

With The Photometrist opening new doors for him, Khalil hopes that other students are inspired to put themselves out there. “I started my page as a hobby, but I knew the power of building my brand early on will help me in the future. Building your brand as early as you can will not hurt you in any way. It will help you expand your patient base, get inspiration from other pages and discover great independent eyewear brands on Instagram,” he stated.

“Some problems in life can stop us or delay us from pursuing our dreams and achieving our goals,” he said. “War, financial insecurity, and displacement to different countries are some of the obstacles I have faced and overcame. Now, I am grateful that I have faced these challenges as they filtered and focused my values and goals, and I hope I can inspire people to never stop chasing their dreams.”