MAY 2013

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

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66 EW IN OTHER NEWS May 2013 Book continued from page 65 have to wear glasses, but that's fine. I see. I see beautifully." She is from a family where no one, male or female, had gone beyond high school. Her sisters and brother were married at a young age, she said, but she had decided at an equally young age that this would not be her destiny. "I was 17 years old, and my parents arranged my marriage, and I said 'No, I don't want to get married. If you marry me, I'm going to run away.' Where would I have run? But that was my 17-year-old mentality. They let me alone. They didn't force me," she said. Dr. Simjee entered Rangoon University in Burma for premed studies in 1962. As political instability occurred around her, a nearby United States Information Services Library fascinated her. There, she read about the Western world and was increasingly intrigued by it. "I would devour periodicals such as Time magazine with a dictionary at my elbow. The stories I read of Western women excelling in science and world affairs fanned my desire to be one of those women," she wrote in the book. "As I read, I became more familiar with the political and cultural landscape of America. But with the military takeover, the library was burned to the ground." At 26, armed with a medical degree, Dr. Simjee left her family and homeland for the United States, where she focused her residency and fellowship in ophthalmology. After entering private practice in California, she decided it was time to give back. Volunteer work The book traces Dr. Simjee's many adventures in mission work treating patients in countries including Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia, with each chapter set in a different country. She details how she has worked without adequate instrumentation, without enough funds, and in areas devastated by natural disasters. In 2010, she stayed in a tent city set up by actor Sean Penn and philanthropist Diane Jenkins' J/P Haitian Relief Organization in Haiti, three months after the massive earthquake there. Because of the extent of the medical need and devastation, Dr. Simjee performed medicine unrelated to ophthalmology. "I delivered babies—[I was an] ophthalmologist working on the opposite end of the body. I did episiotomies and I sutured it all with eyelid sutures because that's all I had, sutures for the eyelids. But I did it," she said. "You have to be very versatile [in mission work]." Dr. Simjee said she has learned many lessons in her 35 years as an ophthalmologist, including in her volunteer work around the world. "Life is short, time is precious," she said. "Do the best you can because most people, if not all, will appreciate what you are doing. And don't get discouraged by people who are not satisfied with what you can do for them. Keep your courage up, and keep working." Hope in Sight is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble. EW Editors' note: Dr. Simjee wrote Hope in Sight. Contact information Simjee: eyesimdad@yahoo.com

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