When he says, “I can’t slow down,” you would think he must be a millennial, perhaps 29 years of age. When he says, “I expect to change shortly,” you would think he must be undergoing midlife crisis, perhaps 49 years. But only when you meet Dr Kasu Prasad Reddy, India’s top-most opthalmologist and Hyderabad’s best-known doctor, you will realise he is 69, going on 19. Catch him at the Boulder Hills Golf Club teeing off in style every morning at 4.30 am and you will agree on that. However, it is his work – 45,000 successful laser surgical procedures spread across 30 years of active practice to his credit – that speaks more about him than his medical degrees or other stats. Ask him about his secret of energy, he quips, “Two hours of golf a day keeps the disease and the doctor away.”
For someone who has been working for a minimum of 12 hours a day – 8 am to 8 pm, since 1996, how does he find the time for golf and socialising and research? “I am an early bird, waking up at 4 am, come rain or shine. After golfing till 6.30 am, I am back to my hospital-cum-office in Somajiguda. I shower at my hospital and after breakfast, I dive into my work. From consultations to surgeries to meetings and research, everything happens till 8 pm. Then after catching up with friends, I wrap up the day. This has been my schedule for the last 22 years, ever since I came to Hyderabad from the UK,” he says. Dr Reddy credits his love for sports right from his Guntur Medical College days for his discipline and diligence. “I was an avid cricketer and I was so lost in the game that I flunked in one of my medical exams. My professor chided me and said that if you want to be a good doctor, your priorities will have to change. So I did rearrange my priorities that even till this day, my love for games never comes in way of my core work.”
But doctor garu, how can you wake up every day on time? No morning blues? “Mind over matter,” says Dr Reddy, credited as being the man who brought the Lasik technology to India and also has the distinction of being the first and the only Indian member of ACOS – American-European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgery. Most recently, he was in news for supporting the Thermal Battery Technology, considered the first of its kind in the world by Dr Patrick Glynn of Australia. “I promoted it in India and the company Bharath Energy Storage Technology Pvt Ltd got selected for the Kanthal award in Sweden” he says. “Sound judgement”, he adds, “is what distinguishes the average doctor from the respected one. Not many know that the renowned laser-assisted eye surgery expert is also into Aviation Medicine (also holds British Pilot License). Dr Reddy hails from a family of politicians, but he says his heart pined for health care.
Dr Reddy says he also never faces workday blues because he believes that blessings from the patients are the biggest draws. “We Indian doctors are blessed as we get tremendous love from the patients. Abroad, the doc is a professional who treats their ailments. In India, he is God. There is an emotional attachment to the doctor. My mission is to never leave a patient unhappy. Despite my best efforts, if the patient is not happy with the treatment or the service, I want to address it. Everything from billing to the post-op care, I want to make sure no patient is ever miserable or blames me. No doctor should ever make money out of the patient’s misery.”
It was this mission that made him leave the UK at the peak of his career to move to Hyderabad. “Giving back was on my mind especially after I realised that the technology there would be of tremendous benefit to Indians. Once I realised that, my decision to shift back was easy,” says the doctor who lived in the UK for 20 years. Dr Reddy’s Maxivision is known for correcting Refractive Errors. A Refractive error occurs when the focus of the eye is disturbed. The most common Refractive errors include Myopia, Hyperopia and Astigmatism. These can be corrected through refractive surgeries best suitable for your eyes. With 14 hospitals in six cities, the hospital chain says it has treated 2.4 million patients so far.
So what’s coming up in 2019, we ask.
Dr Reddy says he wants to work towards getting better technology to India. “We have great doctors. We need good technology to aid them. I want to put forth this idea to the powers that be and get something done in 2019.” On the personal front, he expects to spend more time with wife Shyla. “She is my pillar of support. For now, I give her 20 minutes a day. 10 minutes for dinner and 10 minutes to discuss or argue, depending on which side of her I am. I also take her out when I socialise in the city, usually to doctor’s parties. So mixing business with pleasure is how I like it.”Any regrets in life or about coming back to India? “I lost my son in a road accident when he was riding a bike. I wish that never happened.”
— Manju Latha Kalanidhi