Cleansing with eye for detail


Ooi attending to a customer at her shop in Lorong Soo Hong, George Town. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GIVING a literal meaning to the saying ‘cuci mata’, Ooi Poh Mei spends her days cleansing her customers’ eyes in the most detailed manner possible.

Using a traditional Chinese herbal concoction passed down by her great-grandfather, the 32-year-old has attended to more than 1,000 customers at her shop in Lorong Soo Hong, George Town, Penang.

“This is a family business and I am the fourth generation to inherit my great-grandfather’s herbal recipe which dates back nearly 100 years.

“We take the eye cleansing service very seriously here.

“In order to properly clean the eyes, we have to be very gentle and careful.

“This is because there is a process of flipping the customer’s eyelids over so that we can glide a cotton bud soaked with the herbal concoction over it.

“The process is painless and soothing but can be intimidating to those who are going through it for the first time.

“As such, the person cleansing the eyes needs to be able to control his or her strength and arm movements well, ” she said when met at her shop.

Ooi said the process is simple and takes about 15 minutes but its effects are noticeable almost immediately.

“Our customers who tried it will usually return because they can feel the difference after each session. “Cleansing the eyes not only allows us to get rid of the dust, fine particles and pollutants but also helps clear impurities in our eyes.

“Some of the uncles and aunties in the area will come once in a while to get their eyes cleansed.

“This is especially so for those who ride motorcycles because their eyes are often exposed to particles and pollutants in the air when they travel around.

“Although I am not medically trained, our method of eye cleansing has been around for some 100 years.

“I was first taught this method when I was 16 years old.

“My great-grandfather passed his skills down to my grandfather and then I learnt it.

“As such, it is a precious family legacy and I plan to continue cleansing eyes as there is still a demand for this service.

“Nowadays, not only the older generation come for the service.

“The younger ones are coming to my shop too.

“Some of the young ones are afraid when they go through the process for the first time.

“However, after they relax and settle in for a session, most find no discomfort during the process, ” she said.

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