For Dr. Rekha Sidramayya Bainchincholemath (or as she simply refers to herself, Dr. Rekha S.), her interest in ophthalmology was ignited when her maternal uncle experienced a retinal detachment while she was studying for her medical degree in Gulbarga, Karnataka. Wanting to know more about the subject, as well as the best treatment options available, she decided to venture into ophthalmology. She did her postgraduate studies in the J.N. Medical College, Belgaum, Karnataka, and obtained her Diplomate of National Board (DNB) and vitreoretinal fellowship at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.
According to Dr. Rekha, when she took up ophthalmology she though that it was ‘pretty cool’, however when she delved into the vitreoretinal subspecialty, she soon found out that it was a whole different ball game.
“Vitreoretinal surgery is a complex blend of difficult high-tech microsurgery applied to a complex pathobiologic system. There are so many uncertainties and emergencies involved in the surgical field,” she said.
Despite being in one of the most challenging subspecialties of ophthalmology, Dr. Rekha loves the challenge of treating difficult cases, which often require innovative problem-solving skills. She also finds fulfilment in helping patients save their vision. Today, she works as a senior vitreoretinal surgeon at Agarwal Eye Hospital in Chennai, India.
Throughout her journey in ophthalmology, her parents have been most supportive, although initially they placed some restrictions on her traveling. “Being in this industry, sometimes there’s a lot of travel to do in a single day and I will only return home after midnight. At first, my parents were worried about me travelling at night, but I’ve proven to them that I am able to take care of myself,” she shared.
As a professional, she feels that work and family should be separated. “Matters at work should not be brought home, and matters at home should not be brought to the workplace. This will ensure that you really focus on your family when you are home, while keeping your work professional.”
Looking back to her college days, Dr. Rekha hopes that medical students will be given more chances to perform more work. “During my studies, I had to rely a lot on observation. When young people are given more opportunities to get their hands dirty, they will learn more and may even come out with new ways of doing things. They will also gain more experience and have more confidence in their skills.”
To those who are looking to enter the vitreoretinal field, she stressed that passion and the willingness to work hard are key to tackle the demands of this field. “If you are taking up a vitreoretinal subspecialty, be prepared to give 100 percent effort and maximum time to pursue it. You should be hardworking and have a strong grasp of the basics in ophthalmology. When met with challenges or difficulties, do not give excuses but continue to strive towards your goals. Persistence is the way to go and at the end of the road, you will be rewarded,” she concluded.