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10 Jul 2014
An Interview With The Eminent Dr. Vandana Jain

The Rendezvous

An Interview With The Eminent Dr. Vandana Jain


Dr. Vandana Jain is an internationally trained Cornea, Cataract and a Refractive surgeon. Besides being a renowned Cornea Surgeon, Dr. Jain has the rare blend of business management training as well.

She has specialized in Cornea and Anterior Segment at L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad and won the Best Fellow award. Dr Jain also did another advanced Cornea and Refractive Surgery fellowship from the MEEI, Harvard medical school, USA. A clinician and academician par excellence, Dr Jain has more than 40 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals.

After working as a super specialty Ophthalmologist for a few years, Dr Jain did a full time MBA from Stanford Business School to pursue her entrepreneurial ambitions. Working closely with Stanford School of Bio-Design, she co-founded a medical device company called Clear Ear Inc which is currently a successful start-up in California. Her rare combination of Medical & business expertise was much sought after and she was often invited for various talks and panel discussions.

Dr Jain’s clinical work includes medical and surgical problems related to Cornea and the anterior segment of the eye such as cataract, keratoconus, Corneal Ulcers and infections, Herpetic Keratitis, Ocular Allergies, PUK’s, Fuch’s and other corneal Dystrophies, Contact Lens related problems, corneal abrasions and corneal perforations. She is well trained and proficient in procedures like Phacoemulsification, Cornea Transplantation, DSEK, DALK, Ocular Surface Reconstruction, Amniotic Membrane transplantation, Limbal Stem Cell Transplantation, Collagen Cross Linking, Keratoprosthesis (Artificial Cornea Implantation) LASIK, Epi-LASIK, PRK and all the other refractive procedures related to spectacle correction such as Phakic IOL’s.

She started multispecialty “Advanced Eye Hospital & Institute” in Navi Mumbai in November 2012. According to her vision, AEHI would offer state-of-art facilities, technology, doctors, research, training and teaching and would poise to become the premier eye hospital of western India.

What prompted you to pursue MBA post your medical education?

Medicine is a unique profession in many ways. We deal with lives but that is what gives us money also. While our medical training trains us in all scientific and treatment issues, it does not really train us in the ancillary aspects viz: practice management, man management, advertising, financial management and health policy among many others. It teaches us nothing about running enterprises and businesses. My career goals entailed making a difference in the running of health affairs in the larger interests of and for the betterment of society. I felt the need to upgrade my skill set to take my dreams forward and hence decided to pursue an MBA.

 Looking back at your career path, what has been the most rewarding for you?

There were two inflection points in my life- First one was pursuing a Cornea Fellowship from LV Prasad Eye Institute. This experience taught me the true value of discipline, sincerity and hard work. Besides this I became a better clinician and developed a more evolved evidence based approach towards disease management.

The second inflection point was going to Stanford business school. This experience provided me with the necessary confidence, networks and the skill sets to take my dreams forward. Besides some of the most important learnings of my life about human behaviours, importance of continuous learning and drive for improvement have come through this.

 How did the idea of your start-up, Clear Ear Inc come about?

This was a part of a class called Biodesign Innovation. We were posted in San Francisco general hospital for understanding the existing lacunae and the needs for innovation. While observing the current methods of ear cleaning we observed the need for a safer, easier, more effective and a quicker means to clean ear.

 Where should the focus be in ophthalmological/medical research at this point, according to you? What is the next big thing in research?

I think the next big thing in ophthalmic research will be increased viability of retinal stem cells and artificial retina research thereby making it available for each and everyone around the world at not such a prohibitive cost and better more predictable outcomes. This will give a hope of vision to lot of people with debilitating retinal diseases.

 What challenges did you face in setting up Advanced Eye Hospital and Institute?

We faced mainly two challenges-

  1. Fund raising – It was challenging due to high initial set-up costs and eye care being a crowded space.
  2. Unprofessional attitude of contractors and vendors – The contractors and people on the ground executing the project had a very casual and callous attitude towards the quality of work. They did not even try to meet the deadlines for project completion. We felt that in general vendors will always overpromise and under-deliver inspite of prior commitments and timely payments. The people in general do not honour their word.

 Having studied both in India and the US, what differences did you observe between the two education systems? What can the Indian system learn from the US and vice-versa?

US education system is based more on experiential learning. The structure of the programs encourages thinking, creativity, team work and collaboration. Indian education is based more on theoretical grounds. I think we definitely need to learn some of these aspects like skill based education, rewarding creativity, original thinking, innovation etc. Also, we need to stop accepting mediocrity in our education systems!

US education system can borrow from India and try to encourage students to take up and excel in Maths and Science.

Dr.Vandana Jain in her clinic ‘AEHI’,Mumbai

 Tips for fresh medical graduates who are yet to establish their clinical practice or their career.

Being a good doctor is half science and half art. So learning about other ancillary aspects of practise is as important as knowing your clinical area well. A good clinician doesn’t necessarily mean a busy practice and a financially rewarding career. Social skills, communication ability, managing finances etc. to name a few are very important to learn. One must take time to garner these skills.

 According to you, the next big thing in ophthalmology is _____.

I think it will be use of lasers in almost all aspects of treatment. The aim would be to increase precision, safety and lesser dependence on surgeon’s skills. Examples being, use of femtosecond lasers for surgeries like SMILE Lasik for glass removal, for cataract surgeries, for corneal surgeries like DALK, DSEK etc. Sensing this, we have already installed the best possible Laser equipments at Advanced Eye Hospital & Institute.

 Do you prefer Delhi or Mumbai?

I prefer Mumbai for its culture and professionalism and Delhi for its infrastructure

 Your day must include _____?

A workout and reading

 What is your favourite food?

Stir fried vegetables

Authored By: Lexicon Correspondent