Driven by a passion and motivation for transforming lives through vision preservation and restoration, Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan has been making a mark as a young and accomplished ophthalmologist in her native country of India and, more recently, in Dubai. More than anything, she is committed to making a positive impact on people’s lives.
Growing up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, as a third generation ophthalmologist, Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan has inherited a profound passion for the field.
“Both my parents are respected ophthalmologists, and their dedication has been a constant source of inspiration,” shared Dr. Mohan, who, at only 32, is currently a specialist ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal specialist at Medcare Eye Centre in Al Safa, Dubai, under the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
However, she confessed that at first, ophthalmology wasn’t really on her radar. “With both my parents being ophthalmologists, I wanted to venture into something different to carve out my own niche. I eventually found myself drawn to ophthalmology due to my genuine interest in its combination of medical expertise and surgical skills. It seemed like the perfect balance for me, allowing me to explore both fields simultaneously,” she noted.
Shaping her future in ophthalmology
Dr. Mohan received her training with outstanding performances at two prestigious ophthalmic institutes. She did her residency at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad under the National Board of Examinations, where she was awarded a gold medal for the highest score in Ophthalmology. And for her Vitreoretinal fellowship at Sankara Nethralaya, Medical Research Foundation in Chennai, she was recognized as the Best Outgoing Vitreoretinal Fellow.
“Working in those two top-notch institutes has truly shaped me into a better ophthalmologist. The exposure to advanced techniques and the guidance of exceptional mentors have significantly helped me enhance my skills and knowledge,” said Dr. Mohan, adding that the diverse range of patient cases she encountered has been instrumental in her growth and development.
“I also had the opportunity to work as a consultant at Rajan Eye Care in Chennai, alongside my parents. It was a valuable experience that further enriched my skills and provided me with practical exposure in the field of ophthalmology,” she added.
Embarking on the vitreoretinal path
During her residency, Dr. Mohan was instantly fascinated by the retina, especially when she got her first glimpse of it using an indirect ophthalmoscope.
“This fascination kept growing throughout my residency and ultimately led me to choose this field,” she enthused. “The delicate nature of the retina, with its intricate layers and the vital role it plays in our vision, truly intrigued me. Witnessing the profound impact that retinal conditions can have on patients’ lives, combined with the challenging yet rewarding nature of retinal procedures, solidified my decision to specialize in this field,” she shared.
For Dr. Mohan, the opportunity to closely engage with patients, diagnose various retinal disorders, and provide comprehensive management while restoring and enhancing vision is both intellectually stimulating and deeply gratifying.
After completing her fellowship in vitreoretinal practice in July last year, Dr. Mohan embarked on her professional journey. Initially, she started performing surgeries at Rajan Eye Care, her parent’s hospital in Chennai. However, earlier this year, she relocated to Dubai, where she is currently in the process of establishing herself as an ophthalmologist specializing in cataract and vitreoretinal diseases.
“Starting my career in Dubai meant embarking on a journey to build my reputation as an ophthalmologist from scratch,” she said. “While my current focus is on medical retinal practice and cataract surgeries, I have yet to venture into vitreoretinal surgery in this new setting. I aspire to do that in the near future.”
Initially, the young ophthalmologist would see a modest number of five to six patients a day. “However, with unwavering effort and dedication, my patient load gradually increased over the span of two to three months,” she shared.
Through perseverance and a steadfast commitment to providing quality care, Dr. Mohan is steadily growing her practice and making a positive impact on the lives of her patients.
“I am excited about the opportunities and challenges that come with building my practice in this new environment, and I look forward to making a meaningful contribution to the field of ophthalmology in the region,” she added.
A passion for education and learning
Dr. Mohan’s passion for education is evident in her dedication to sharing her knowledge through various educational initiatives. In December 2019, she launched Ophthalmobytes, a comprehensive ophthalmology website and Instagram page, which aims to create an all-encompassing atlas of ophthalmology.
Her primary objective was to provide concise and accessible educational content through visually appealing images and succinct text. Her sister, Dr. Madhuvanthi Mohan, who is currently pursuing a fellowship in cornea, is in charge of the website, playing a pivotal role in ensuring regular updates with high-quality content.
The updates provided on Ophthalmobytes have been incredibly useful to ophthalmic professionals. “We have endeavored to build a resource that simplifies ophthalmology education and offers practical insights,” she shared. Dr. Mohan has also initiated the #Retina101bySM on LinkedIn, where she actively shares information and insights related to the vitreoretinal field.
In addition, Dr. Mohan also actively participates in webinars organized by renowned organizations, such as the Ophthalmology Foundation, All India Ophthalmological Society, Cybersight by Orbis, India Vision Institute, iTeach, and Medisage, among others.
“These opportunities allow me to contribute to the educational community and expand my reach to a wider audience. I also serve as a virtual education and research associate for Rajan Eye Care Hospital in Chennai. In this role, I actively contribute to postgraduate training programs and regularly conduct educational classes,” she noted.
Dr. Mohan believes in the power of continuous learning and strives to foster a culture of ongoing education and improvement. “By sharing insights, collaborating with colleagues, and staying updated with the latest advancements, I aim to contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology and ultimately enhance patient care,” she enthused.
Loving her second home
Working and living in Dubai is quite a stark contrast to her previous work experiences in India, particularly when it comes to healthcare services.
“One prominent distinction is the substantial role insurance plays in Dubai’s healthcare system. Unlike in India, where access to medical services was readily available without significant delays, navigating the insurance landscape in Dubai has become an integral aspect of my practice here,” shared Dr. Mohan.
For her, understanding the intricacies of the insurance system in country has proved to be quite challenging, and required a dedicated effort to familiarize herself with the processes, policies, and requirements involved. “Adapting to the insurancedriven model has been a learning curve, as it necessitates effective communication with insurance providers, adhering to their protocols, and ensuring optimal patient care within the framework of coverage,” she added.
Having said that, Dubai has become a home away from home for Dr. Mohan. She is enjoying being part of its vibrant and diverse community and finds a unique blend of familiarity and novelty in a city that provides the best of both worlds.
Striving for more
Dr. Mohan has a strong drive for continuous learning and staying up to date with the latest advancements.
“Collaborating with fellow professionals to push the field forward is something I’m really passionate about. The personal fulfillment I get from using my skills to improve the lives of others keeps me dedicated and excited about ophthalmology and its ongoing growth,” she remarked.
What advice does Dr. Mohan have for aspiring ophthalmologists?
“Continuously strive to expand your knowledge, be open to making mistakes and learning from them, connect with experienced mentors, engage with professional societies, embrace technological advancements, prioritize the wellbeing of the patient, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and contribute to community initiatives,” she replied.
In the future, Dr. Mohan hopes to see ophthalmology thriving through increased collaboration.
“Ophthalmologists should be empowered to work together towards breakthrough discoveries,” she said. “I hope to see joint research, interdisciplinary initiatives, innovative solutions, and partnerships with government and nonprofit sectors to revolutionize patient care.”
She also hopes to see conferences and digital platforms serving as vibrant hubs for collaboration, fostering rapid progress, and ensuring widespread access to the latest advancements. “I also hope to see ophthalmological services reaching every corner of the world, ensuring access to quality eye care for all,” she added.
Dr. Mohan considers herself incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to train under amazing mentors who have played a pivotal role in shaping her journey in ophthalmology with their guidance and mentorship.
“I owe this incredible journey to the amazing support system I have—my parents, my husband, my sister, my mentors, family, and friends. They have always believed in me and cheered me on every step of the way,” she concluded. “I’m so grateful for their unwavering encouragement, which keeps me motivated to make a real difference in ophthalmology.”
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was first published in PIE Magazine Issue 27.