charity in eye care is not an obstacle to building career, wealth and fameFebruary 5, 2020
Ophthalmologists in India — home to the world’s largest blind population — carry an additional responsibility beyond the natural nobility of the profession — to ensure that no one is pushed into blindness due to a lack of awareness or money.
This needs a bit of an extra effort. As we all know, most of the causes of blindness are preventable, and it is often the sheer ignorance of the patient or his inability to access the right treatment that results in the unfortunate case of loss of sight. Many of these cases of blindness are also reversible with the right intervention as we are living in a world in which technology has made significant leaps, transforming the way diseases are diagnosed and treated.
Educating the patient and helping him follow the right diagnosis and treatments — irrespective of his financial capacity — is a prime responsibility of a doctor and this becomes much more critical and important when it comes to eye care. The ability to see is one of the biggest blessings of nature that we all have,and losing the same drastically changes one’s life forever. It is even more tragic if it is caused by an avoidable cause.
Though most of us focus on building a career, money and fame in the initial years of practice, I would advise that it is important to follow a schedule that involves some kind of charity at all stages of one’s career, given the unique situation in the country. I have chosen this as a part of my practice even from the initial days of my career. Typically, in India, the vast majority of patients are not aware of their health status. Even if they are aware, they either don’t know what to do next, or don’t have the financial ability to access what is required.
In this context, just the right guidance may help them prevent blindness; charity doesn’t often mean a cost to you. Similarly, even spending a little time from your practice to serve the needy will not cause you any significant financial loss. On the contrary, I can confidently say that even a service that involves charity can bring you money and fame.
The other important piece of advice that I wanted to share with everyone in my profession is that all specialists, ophthalmologists in particular, should approach the patient with a slightly broader vision. They should be able to advise the patient about any other complications he or she may be suffering from. This is again very critical in a country like India, where many eye patients come to the ophthalmologist without realising that his or her problem is due to another disease like diabetes. Similarly, many diabetics come to a concerned specialist without knowing that his eyesight or other organs are already being impacted. So, it is the duty of the specialist to approach the patients in a holistic manner and make the patient aware of the other possible damages and to refer them to concerned experts.
Author is the Chairman & Managing Director, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, and President, All India Ophthalmological Society
— As told to CH Unnikrishnan