Leslie O'Dell, OD
A SPOONFUL OF PLAYFULNESS MAKES THE SCIENCE GO DOWN
Leslie is the director of the Dry Eye Center Of Pennsylvania, one of the first dedicated dry eye practices in America. After completing a hospital based residency at the Baltimore VA hospital earlier in her career, she began working with an ophthalmologist, focused on complex ocular diseases such as glaucoma. In this surgical setting in the early 2000’s, much was being learned about the effects of ocular surgery on the eye’s delicate tear film and ocular surface. Managing dry eye disease became Leslie’s focus.
With organizations like TFOS, she was able to surround herself with like-minded people to spark her passion and foster collaboration. In 2015, she began working with the TFOS dews ii initiative, a global effort to improve the understanding of dry eye disease. Leslie was 1 of 150 participants from around the globe, including 23 countries, and proudly served on the public awareness committee. She is now 1 of 8 US-based TFOS ambassadors, along with Dr. Laura Periman.
As the director of the dry eye center of Pennsylvania, her focus is on early diagnosis of dry eye disease and introducing treatments to restore tear film homeostasis in her patients as well as hope for improved comfort and returning quality of life to her patients.
As a dry eye sufferer herself, Leslie the perfect candidate for dry eye disease — a female in her forties with a history of hypothyroid disease, having had LASIK corrective surgery over a decade prior. She also has a ‘healthy’ obsession with beauty products and trends that she shares with many of her college girlfriends, many of whom are the new wave of soccer-moms-who-sell-makeup. The search for the best under eye concealer or mascara to help hide the “tired mommy” look was originally based on performance of the cosmetics. However, as Leslie developed a better understanding of the regulations in the us on cosmetics, the focus shifted to cosmetics performance and safety, not an easy feat.
As a mother of two, Anna (9) and William (6), nutrition and balanced diets have been a staple in her house. Teaching her children to read food labels and understand daily allowances for grams of sugar will help them make better food choices. Hence, reading labels for cosmetics much like food labels has also become Leslie's new normal, to protect herself, her family and the patients she serves. This will take time to pass on to her children as many of the ingredients are barely pronounceable. These frankenchemicals pose many health and ocular risks. Educating her peers to the potential harms in the cosmetics consumers are using has been rewarding. Leslie was thrilled to pair with Amy and Laura, the dry eye divas to start educating doctors and consumers to the hidden risks in their cosmetics.
Leslie enjoys learning about health and fitness and applying this to her day-to-day living. Most recently, after turning 40, she began running again. Her goal has been to find time for 50 miles a month. Family is a big part of her life. She is fortunate to live close to her sisters and parents and loves the time spent at family dinners. She and her husband share a love for live music and enjoy traveling to see their favorite bands.