Stephanie Doherty is a London-based optometrist whose main focus is special effects contact lenses. Doherty graduated from Cardiff University Wales in the summer of 2013, and went on to complete her pre-registration year, which in the U.K., means you work under a practicing optometrist for one year before taking the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and registering with the college of optometrists.

In addition to standard optometry, Doherty wanted to incorporate her creative side with her optometry. Her love for making costumes for themed parties sparked her interest in special effects (sfx) contact lenses. With so many unsafe and cheap online lenses available, Doherty decided to research safe alternatives. This led her to become involved in the makeup and film industry and launched her career as an sfx lenses optometrist. “I realized then that I could merge my eyecare professional knowledge with my love of dressing up to be able to work safely with the makeup industry to offer advice about sfx contact lenses, lens material, correct lens fitting, and suitable contact lens designs to achieve a desired look,” she said.

As an sfx contact lens optometrist, Doherty’s life is a bit different than most optometrists. In addition to still practicing in a brick-and-mortar clinic in London, Doherty also gets to travel as part of her job. “When I first qualified as an optometrist I was working as a resident optometrist in London. I then got asked to work on set for a few months on Game of Thrones season five, fitting sfx lenses. That’s when I realized that working as a locum optometrist allows me to be more flexible. I can go to any set and carry out sfx lens fittings,” Doherty explained. Doherty freelances as a locum optometrist in the London and Surrey areas. The flexibility allows her to do the last-minute traveling required of her when she’s working on a film or television project.

This past November, Doherty decided to take her adventures as an sfx contact lens optometrist to Instagram. With Eyedvice, Doherty created a platform where she could engage people who are interested in knowing more about sfx lenses—including makeup artists, other professionals as well as the general public. Her content is mostly clinical. She covers topics such as anisocoria, keratoprosthesis, and interstital keratitis, which can come from scrolling through Instagram, reading an article in one of the trade magazines or her encounters with patients when she travels or at her clinic. “Most of my ideas come when scrolling through Instagram. I then link a striking image with helpful advice. If I read an interesting article in my usual optometry magazines I sometimes search for a good image to get my message across. Most of my posts are created when I’m on the train traveling to work. I often have long commutes and use that time to create content,” she explained.


Eyedvice is also a way for Doherty to continue conversations with her patients outside of the small window she is allotted in the exam room. In general practice, she found that a lot of people wanted to be fit with cosmetic lenses. However, many of them would purchase their lenses online, without being fit by an eyecare professional. With Eyedvice, she is able to reach a patient wherever they may be and help them make informed decisions. “I feel it is our responsibility to be able to offer patients suitable eyecare advice when they want to purchase cosmetic lenses,” she stated. “Many people are unaware that not only are most of the online cosmetic lenses made using poor quality material, but also the ways in which these lenses are manufactured and cut are not safe.
“Instagram is a great social media platform to connect with patients outside the test room, especially young contact lens wearers,” she remarked.

Though her schedule is jam-packed with travel and work, Doherty still makes sure she updates her page at least once a day whether she adds to her timeline or posts an Instastory. Because she comes in contact with different eyes on a daily basis, her work as a practitioner also influences the type of content she publishes. “I use my large patient database to show real life eye conditions, which is useful for makeup artists to create believable looks. As an eyecare professional offering advice to the makeup industry I am aware of different materials and designs that are suitable for their clients. I promote safety and make everyone understand that contact lenses are a medical device and should be used with care.”

Doherty’s creativity and love for optometry have blended quite well for her. Not only has she worked on “Game of Thrones,” she has also done some sfx contact lenses for the upcoming “Hellboy” movie and she will be fitting lenses for the International Makeup Artists Tradeshow (IMAT) taking place in May.

Moving forward, she hopes to continue growing Eyedvice and expand her collaboration pool. “I hope to continue to promote safe contact lens wear and plan on collaborating with makeup artists and sfx teeth technicians to promote eyecare safety and fx teeth safety,” she told VMail Weekend. “I would love to work with quality contact lens companies to help create my own line of cosmetic lenses that are of good quality, and that I would feel confident recommending to the general public and those interested in sfx makeup and cosplay.”