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Modern Times have Modern Challenges

The Technology Age risks your Eyesight

According to research the average U.S. adult will spend the equivalent of 44 years of their life staring at screens. Polling of 2,000 adults in the U.S. found more than 6,259 hours a year are spent glued to gadgets such as phones, laptops and televisions. That equates to an astonishing 382,652 hours and 48 minutes over the average adult lifetime of 60.7 years.

No big deal?

Many people do not know, but all this screen time subjects you to blue light. According to WebMD, some research has shown blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration, a disease of the retina. Research shows blue light exposure may lead to age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. One study found blue light triggered the release of toxic molecules in photoreceptor cells.

Let’s not forget we only have one pair of eyes and when you are young you are taking them for granted, but when your eyesight deteriorates you wonder is there anything that I could or should have done to nurture my eyesight.

Many people do not know, but all this screen time subjects you to blue light. According to WebMD, some research has shown blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration, a disease of the retina. Research shows blue light exposure may lead to age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. One study found blue light triggered the release of toxic molecules in photoreceptor cells.

In February 2021 The Los Angeles Tribune conducted together with Pitch Global a online Pitch competition and the company Eyetamins with CEO Kaushal Kulkarni ranked in the top. When we learned about the dangers to our eyes we were intrigued to interview Kaushal in detail. Read below the inspiration behind Eyetamins, and behind Kaushal.

What inspired you to start your current business?

I remember I was in the clinic one day, and at the end of a visit, a patient of mine who was worried about losing her vision from macular degeneration pulled out a bunch of eye vitamin bottles and asked me: “Doctor, are any of these good for my eyes?” When I looked carefully at the labels, I was puzzled. The ingredients and dosages in these bottles were completely wrong compared to the ingredients and dosages recommended by the NIH clinical trials (called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study), which all eye doctors learn about in school. I was surprised to see that none of the eye vitamins that this patient somehow found online and, in a store, contained the correct ingredients and dosages proven in the study.

As I began to think about this on my way home and dig deeper over the next few days, I came to realize that the $37B vitamin and supplement industry in the U.S. is in disarray. Most supplements on the market–whether they are for weight loss, skin, energy, or even for your eye–are filled with snake oil and pseudoscience, and the supplement industry as a whole is poorly regulated. Most consumers fall prey to their fear-based advertising and false claims, and end up wasting their money, or even worse–compromising their health or their vision.

Not only that, but now that the average person spends 8-10 hours a day on a digital screen, I was seeing a huge increase in dry eye and eye strain amongst my patients. I knew there were are natural ingredients that were proven to help solve some of these issues, and I wanted to make sure that everyone had access to high quality, scientifically proven formulas, instead of the snake oil that’s out there. And that’s why I started Eyetamins.

What is the story that inspired the name of the company?

I was on the crosstown bus in NYC one afternoon, heading over to teach the hospital to teach the residents in the inner-city eye clinic, where we see tons of people who have neglected their eye health for too long, and now have irreversible damage. And that’s when the name Eyetamins suddenly hit me. I wanted it to be something that’s easy to understand and that helps the average person to remember and think about and take care of their eye health before it’s too late.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your life?

It’s been an awesome journey so far, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. In addition to having my medical practice and seeing patients, being an entrepreneur is like having a second full-time job, so it’s a lot of late nights and weekends. But I love learning and I love building something, and the positive feedback we’ve gotten from our customers makes it all worth it.

What motivates you?
I have always wanted to make a contribution to science, particularly in the eye health field. I’d love to be able to make a lasting change in the way we treat 3 of the common eye conditions that together affect up to 3 billion people worldwide: dry eye, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. People with these conditions always have and always will want and look for natural solutions in addition to standard pharmaceutical treatments. In fact, it’s estimated that at least 1/3 of people with a medical condition are going to go ahead and take some form of natural treatment for it, whether it’s proven or not, whether it’s safe or not, and whether their doctor recommends it or not. So why not give them something that’s based on science? My goal with Eyetamins is to help make a lasting breakthrough in the field of natural eye care and bring science-based solutions to people suffering from these conditions.

How do you generate new ideas?

I talk to and listen to people from different fields through podcasts, interviews, and books. I’m a huge fan of podcasts like How I Built This with Guy Raz, amongst others. I’m a big fan of Ray Dalio so when I’m working on a new idea, I will ideally try and get 2-3 differing opinions on a subject and “triangulate” them before making a decision. I also walk 10K steps a day and that’s my thinking time where I synthesize and generate ideas in my head.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

I think my greatest fear is not reaching my full potential in every area of life. There’s a saying that says, “hell is meeting the person you could have become.” I manage this by writing down my goals almost every morning, coming up with a crystal clear vision of the life and relationships I want to have, and chipping away at that every single day.

What are your ideals?

Honesty is a huge one that I strive for. In my experience, it just makes everything in life much easier. 

How do you define success?

I define success as the degree to which you are happy and content with who you are and what you have done. For me, success is very connected to the degree of my positive impact on other people and on the world. I think on some level, financial success can be a marker or proxy of this, but obviously not in all cases.

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a
successful entrepreneur?

This is always a hard question because there are so many different paths to success, but I think the formula or pattern probably includes making mistakes, failing, iterating, and importantly, being able to listen to critical feedback and make corrections. It sounds simple but everyone knows it’s actually really hard.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is that it serves as a vehicle for meeting and forming relationships with new people. There are so many smart and talented people I’ve met and had the chance to work with in the last few years who I otherwise would never have had a reason to interact with, and I’m really grateful for that since it’s help me to learn and grow a lot.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Every day we get positive reviews from our customers, but my most satisfying moment in business so far was just a few weeks ago, when we received a video testimonial from one of our customers in Japan saying our product had literally “changed her life.” She was suffering from dry eyes for years and had tried everything under the sun with no relief. When she tried our product, called sea berry, which is an omega-packed eye, skin, and mouth moisturizer made from sustainably grown and wild harvested sea buckthorn from Tibet, she said her symptoms finally disappeared and she was able to feel and function like a normal person again. It doesn’t get much more satisfying than that.

What do you wish this company to accomplish within the next year ?

In the next year I would really like to get our clinical studies on dry eye, glaucoma, and blue light off the ground through funding from the National Eye Institute (the eye health division of the National Institute of Health). I would also like to build out our team of investors and advisors.

What do you wish this company will accomplish within the next five years?
In the next 5 years I would like for Eyetamins to be a household name and a leader in the natural eye care space. My wish is that in five years, we will have strong data from clinical studies proving the benefits of our ingredients for eye health, and that millions of people will benefit from our work.

What does proper leadership look like to do, what is an example of
leadership you have seen that is not proper?

Proper leadership probably involves a lot of things, but one important aspect is the ability to share a larger vision and mission with others and to inspire them onto that mission. An example of leadership I have seen that is improper is when the leader is too into him or herself and wants everything to be done his or her way.

For the aspiring entrepreneur reading this what advice will you give ?

Most people tell aspiring entrepreneurs to “just go for it” and to jump in, but I would say the opposite. Really wait until you have an idea or product that you think is really worthwhile and can add value to society. Chamath Palihapitiya, the founder of Social Capital, talks about this a lot. There are a ton of businesses and consumer products or services out there that add very little or marginal value to society. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we need more forward thinking entrepreneurs that are willing to take bigger risks and solve some of the bigger challenges that are facing humanity. 

What final words do you have for all of the supporters?

Take care of your eye health. Vision is something that all of us take for granted, until it’s too late. 

Those who want to learn more, please go to Make your eyes last a lifetime.

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