Dr. Zubair Ansari, an alumnus of the class of 2004, is now an ophthalmologist with a specific area of expertise.
“My specific focus and expertise is in cataract surgery and what we call anterior segment surgery, which is basically surgery of the front of the eye” Ansari said. He has his eyes on making the world a better place through his study of global ophthalmology.
Global ophthalmology is a fairly new field that Ansari said originated within the last five to six years. It’s basically a specific type of ophthalmology devised to “concentrate on how we can deliver high efficiency, good practice eye surgery at a low cost in a low resource environment,’’ said Ansari in a phone interview.
Global ophthalmologists usually focus on third world countries. In the past year, Ansari has visited India, Rwanda, Burundi, and Haiti. He usually stays in each place for about three to six weeks, depending on the purpose of the trip, and even as little as one week for some surgical missions.
In India, he was a student for six weeks, because he was training on how to do a specific, low-cost type of cataract surgery. “When I travel to for example, Rwanda or Haiti, I stay [for] about 3 weeks, and the reason why is because I’m actually training future eye surgeons, so my primary focus there is to be an educator,” Ansari said.
Ansari enjoys looking back on his travels. He said, “In my mind, each of the countries I travel to, it’s almost like your children, right, where it’s really hard to pick out one that you love the most.”
He says going to India is connecting to his roots while in Haiti, he feels like he makes the biggest difference. But, at the top of his list at the moment, are Burundi and Rwanda “They were the unknown, and I enjoy that aspect about travel, which is navigating through a new area that I have never been to before, so I’d have to say that they took the edge over the other places.”
Although, he adds, “But it’s not really fair to knock all the other countries that I have traveled to.”
Dr. Ansari gave some advice to his high school self. “I’d knock him in the head a few times and say, ‘Appreciate this!’ because it’s very short, it doesn’t last that long and the things that you learn in those short years are very important for your future.”
Even though he’s made his career in science, Ansari said that writing and acting skills have helped in his field, especially in terms of communication for moments like cultural sensitivity and explaining the science behind the surgeries. “Communication is like, 90% of my job, and show[ing] them [the patients] the science behind taking care of patients, which is where it all breaks down.”
Ansari said learning languages makes his job easier. “I am trying to learn French, for my trip to Haiti because Haiti speaks a dialect of French. There’s also a lot of Sub-Saharan African that also have French roots as well. Through my residency training in Miami, I essentially had to pick up Spanish, a really important one, not only just for travel to different countries, but also to practice in the state of Florida.”
While this is a new field, Ansari stated global opthamology is growing. “Believe it or not, there’s a lot of people who are vastly interested in being able to reduce global blindness, so people come to me with a lot of interest and enthusiasm to volunteer.”