Unite For Sight's Alumni Profile Series: Abraar Karan

Abraar Karan, currently a fourth year medical student at UCLA, participated as a Global Impact Fellow during his freshman and sophomore years at Yale University. At the time, Abraar was interested in learning about the ways in which health interacts with all aspects of an individual’s life. Specifically, he notes that he wanted to expose himself to new cultures and lifestyles so that he could understand how people’s lives differed from his own.  Abraar traveled to Chennai, India in 2007, as well as to Tegucigalpa, Honduras in 2008, where he volunteered and conducted research.

We recently connected with Abraar to hear about his experience as a Global Impact Fellow.

What research study did you conduct while abroad?

I worked in Chennai, India as a Global Impact Fellow, where I conducted a research study on the use of visual aids to improve villagers' understanding of cataract procedures. This was the first research study undertaken at Unite For Sight by a student, and helped to develop the UFS research branch. Subsequently, I worked as a Program Development Fellow in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where I aided in creating the Honduran UFS volunteer program with ZOE Eye Clinic.

What was your most memorable experience with Unite For Sight?

One of my most memorable experiences was the day that I met Saliammal, a 70-year-old woman who had attended the eye care camp in a rural part of Tamil Nadu. I walked several miles with her to her village, and spent time speaking to her and others about how their life in the village was affected by their cataracts and eye problems. Understanding the larger context behind the patient was perhaps the most important part of the learning process for me.

How has your experience with Unite For Sight influenced your career interests?

My early experiences with Unite For Sight have shaped the type of care I deliver to patients every day. I think more seriously about the context of their disease within their complex lives, and this allows me to provide more tailored, sensitive care. It is the difference between simply a cured patient and an overall healthier human being. I have since worked in several countries around the world, expanding my understanding of global healthcare systems, but I always remember the lessons I first learned years ago with Unite For Sight.