With over four decades of experience as an ophthalmic surgeon, Dr Ulhas Kaisare is a well-known and trusted name in the state when you want to get your vision right. From royalty and politicians to the common man, his list of patients is long. Entrusting their eyes to him alone, his multitude of patients come not just from within the state but also from across the border. From babies to 90-year-olds, he is at present treating the fourth generation of his patients’ families.
The road to success however did not come without obstacles. The senior ophthalmologist shares with NT KURIOCITY.
A resident of Panaji, Kaisare was the youngest of six siblings. His father was a government servant employed in Caixa Economica de Goa, a credit company during the Portuguese rule. Kaisare studied at a local school where the medium of instruction was Marathi and from there to the Lyceum of Goa where he studied in Portuguese. Moving to Scuola Medica (as the Goa Medical College was called before liberation) was like a dream come true for the young aspiring doctor. While one of his brothers took up law and another joined a newspaper, Kaisare was the first in his family to join the medical profession, a fact that made his parents extremely proud.
When he joined medical school however, he had to contend with English, a language that he was not fluent in. “At home we spoke Konkani and in school we were taught in Marathi, so when I joined medical school, I had to master the English language very fast. Of course I knew the basic English grammar but speaking the language without errors was not easy,” he recalls. “I used to fear speaking to anyone as I was afraid I would make mistakes and say the wrong words or use grammatically incorrect language.”
Realising the need to learn the language, he started his own schooling. Despite the tight schedule with classes and studying, he would devote time to reading books in English. “The desire to learn was strong and I would read every day for about two hours.” With focus and a lot of toil, he was soon able to achieve what he had set out to do.
In 1973 when the course was first granted recognition, Kaisare was the first to obtain an MS in ophthalmology and then started teaching at the college as an associate professor. Three years down the line, he quit his teaching job and went into private practice. Setting up his practice, he says, wasn’t difficult, what was, was learning to conduct microscopic surgery. “In those days we only worked with a slit lamp, a trial set to prescribe glasses and the Snellen chart. There were no microscopes and we would operate with the naked eye.” So when the microscope finally came in, learning to operate with it did initially pose a problem. “There were no training programmes where one could go and learn and the only way to do so was attending seminars and conferences and learning as much as possible. It was literally starting from scratch,” he says.
Not one to give in easily, he persevered and travelled all over to learn and within no time was able to perform a microscopic cataract surgery successfully.