“Embracing Failure, Seeking Fulfilment:
Dr. Rizwana Hussaindeen’s Career Wisdom in Optometry”


Interview summarised by Ms. Sucheta Mitra

In this enlightening episode of Insight Radio, Dr. Rizwana Hussaindeen, a distinguished leader with over 15 years of experience in academia, clinical practice, and researcher shared her personal journey in the field of optometry. As the President of the Optometric Association of Tamil Nadu, India, and the chair of the written exam committee for the A.A.O. binocular vision perception and paediatric optometry clinical diplomat section, Dr. Rizwana is a trailblazer in the industry.

Her journey into optometry was serendipitous, leading her to embrace the profession with passion and dedication. Blessed with great mentors, she emphasised the value of challenging oneself and constantly pushing boundaries. She shared her insights into the evolving landscape of vision science, emphasising the importance of aligning career goals with personal vision and leveraging strengths for optimal performance. Her commitment to ongoing learning and soul-searching has been pivotal in her remarkable career.

Her involvement with global organisations, such as the World Council of Optometry and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, showcased the impact of global engagement on her mission in vision science. Dr. Rizwana highlighted the significance of volunteering and advocacy at the national level, encouraging early career professionals to contribute to the advancement of the profession. In her role as the President of the American Academy of Optometry India chapter, Dr. Rizwana has played a pivotal role in making the fellowship more accessible to professionals in India. The India chapter facilitates mentorship, guidance, and virtual exams, providing a platform for professionals to advance their clinical research, academic pursuits, and leadership acumen.

Dr. Rizwana’s holistic approach to healthcare, combining optometry with emotional intelligence and life coaching, reflects her commitment to disrupting her own career for continuous growth. Her journey exemplifies the spirit of innovation, lifelong learning, and global collaboration that defines the future of optometry.

She provides valuable insights into the process of becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO). Dr. Rizwana emphasises that the process of becoming a Fellow involves enrolling in the program, completing case reports, making presentations at conferences, and preparing for a final viva. She encourages aspiring Fellows to challenge themselves and leverage guidance and mentoring provided by organisations like the American Academy of Optometry India chapter.

She sheds light on the significance of early diagnosis of Non-Strabismic Binocular Vision Anomalies (NSBVA) in children. Dr. Rizwana discusses the importance of screening for these latent anomalies, especially in children facing difficulties in academics or sports activities. She introduces the BAND study, highlighting the need for a minimum test battery to identify potential issues. Dr. Rizwana underscores the underestimated impact of NSBVA on children’s quality of life and emphasises the role of optometrists in screening and providing appropriate interventions. She also discusses the challenges and opportunities in implementing school setups for diagnosing binocular vision anomalies, emphasising the need for optometrists to play a crucial role in the screening process. She acknowledges the lack of a comprehensive policy framework in India but advocates for gradual steps, starting with raising awareness and addressing specific vulnerable populations.

The conversation then shifts to the broader aspects of a career in vision science. Dr. Rizwana encourages aspiring professionals to proactively cultivate innovation by tapping into their creativity and strengths. She stresses that innovation is not solely about ground-breaking ideas but about using one’s strengths to contribute to the betterment of eye care accessibility and affordability.

Reflecting on personal and professional growth, Dr. Rizwana delves into the concept of the S-curve, emphasising the importance of continually challenging oneself and not becoming complacent. She shares the significance of vertical and horizontal integration in one’s career, promoting a multidisciplinary approach to expand one’s scope of practice.

Discussing the role of mentorship, Dr. Rizwana sees it as a moral responsibility for experienced professionals to share their insights and wisdom. She emphasises the value of coaching and encourages individuals to seek guidance in their personal and professional journeys.

As the interview progresses, Dr. Rizwana discusses the common dilemma among students and recent graduates about choosing their career paths. She advises individuals to follow their passions, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and be willing to explore different paths.

Dr. Rizwana shares her belief in the importance of continuous learning in the dynamic field of vision science. She emphasizes that building a personal brand is a by-product of being true to oneself, constantly exploring one’s strengths, and serving others without expectations. Dr. Rizwana advocates for a meaningful and adventurous journey, encouraging individuals to focus on the process rather than the destination.

In a heartfelt reflection on her own journey, Dr. Rizwana unveils the hidden facets of success, marked by heartbreaks, failures, and setbacks. She encourages listeners to embrace life fully, urging them to question if their dreams align with their own vision or are borrowed from others. The essence of an entrepreneurial mindset becomes a focal point, with Dr. Rizwana advocating for the freedom that comes from exploring personal passions. She urges individuals to be courageous, vulnerable, and willing to fail, highlighting the importance of mentorship and an entrepreneurial mindset in crafting unique career paths.

Dr. Rizwana’s insights provide a panoramic view of the changing landscape of optometry. The integration of technology is acknowledged, but the enduring significance of human connection, emotional intelligence, and compassionate care in healthcare remains the cornerstone of the profession. Her journey serves as an inspiration, encouraging individuals to forge their own paths, embrace failure, and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset for a fulfilling and impactful career in optometry.

Thank you for exploring the compelling narrative of Dr. Rizwana Hussaindeen’s journey on InSight Radio. Our commitment to delivering engaging stories and insightful discussions remains steadfast, and we encourage you to stay engaged with us. To ensure you stay informed about every episode, consider subscribing to InSight Radio on your preferred podcast platform—whether it’s Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or any other app you prefer. Your subscription connects you with a community devoted to learning, empowerment, and creating a positive global impact. Embark on this extraordinary podcasting venture with us, and together, let’s contribute to making a meaningful difference.