His vision for a better world [Corrected]

Dr. Ahsan Khan, an ophthalmologist in Irvine, is one of the founders for the Gift of Sight program, which opens eye camps in small villages in Guatemala.

January 07, 2012|By Joanna Clay
  • Dr. Ahsan Khan, ophthalmologist and director of Humanity First USA's Gift of Sight program, completed the Southern California Half Marathon on Saturday in Irvine.
Dr. Ahsan Khan, ophthalmologist and director of Humanity… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

While most of us don't think twice about our ability to see the world around us, many lack even the basic access to eyeglasses.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Dr. Ahsan Khan was the president of Humanity First USA.

According to the World Health Organization, 20 million are blind because of cataracts, 90% of which are people in developing countries.

Dr. Ahsan Khan, a Kaiser ophthalmologist in Irvine and Yorba Linda, has seen the need first-hand in countries such as Guatemala, where he has been performing pro bono cataract surgery since 2010.

Khan is the director of Humanity First USA's Gift of Sight program, which opens eye camps in small villages in Guatemala and performs surgery, treats glaucoma and gives eyeglasses to people in need.

On Saturday, he ran the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Half Marathon in Irvine for the nonprofit, hoping to raise funds and awareness about the cause. He liked the idea because it combined both his passions — volunteer work and running.


By the end of the race, Khan had raised more than $1,300 for the nonprofit.

"I gave the gift of sight to 13 people by running this race," he said, pointing out that a cataract surgery costs about $100.

The fundraising isn't over. A play on perfect sight, Khan hopes to raise $2,020 and is keeping the fundraising web page open for a couple more months.

The money raised goes directly to the resources needed for Khan's medical camps.

Khan's first experience with the lack of access to eye care worldwide was while he was a resident at Loyola University in Chicago. During his residency in 2004, he traveled to Pakistan and observed the enormous impact doctors could have on the region.

"When you can help out in some way, it validates the whole reason for going into medicine," he said. "When I did that trip I realized that's what I wanted to do in my career."

In 2010 he was approached by a colleague that was involved with Humanity First. His friend had traveled to Guatemala and saw a need for eye surgery and reached out to Khan. Humanity First's American chapter didn't have eye camps at the time and had never sent a team of doctors to perform eye surgeries.

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