By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Giving Sight Reflects Doctor's Vision

Your Health Connection Magazine
June 2009


GROWING UP IN INDIA WITH CONDITIONS COMPARABLE TO THE MOVIE SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE, RAJESH KHANNA WILL NEVER FORGET THE GIVING NATURE OF HIS FAMILY’S LANDLORD WHO ALSO WORKED AS AN EYE SPECIALIST.

“HE WOULD DO A LOT OF CHARITY camps for vision enhancement ? his works inspired me,” recalled Khanna, who saw many people in his native land with visual disabilities. “I was also spiritually connected to this topic. I was very moved by the story of Jesus Christ … granting vision. This idea of vision and helping others was always in the back of my mind.”

His foresight to live a purposeful life led to medical school, where Khanna had a firsthand experience that set the course of his future.

“When I first looked into the eye, I knew this was what I would be doing for the rest of my life,” said Khanna, who has since earned a reputation for perfecting the art of refractive surgery through years of research, training and experience.

As a board-certified ophthalmologist and LASIK surgeon ? and the founder and medical director of the Khanna Institute of LASIK & Refractive Surgery ? he has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading laser vision correction eye surgeons.

“Every time I give someone sight, it is so pleasurable,” said Khanna, who is also a voluntary clinical instructor of the UCLA medical staff. “I feel blessed at the number of people I’ve been able to help. I’ve had people twice my age touch my feet because I could make them see again.”

GIVING THE GIFT OF SIGHT
The Khanna Institute of Lasik Surgery provides the latest technology in vision correction, tailored to each individual depending on their level of astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness and presbyopia, which is the inability to focus in close proximities, causing the need for reading glasses.

His newest procedure called PRELEX is targeted toward the 50 and over age group. “The surgery includes exchanging the natural lens for a presbyopic implant lens,” he said.

In essence the surgery ? which takes less than 15 minutes and can also prevent cataract development ? rids the need for reading glasses while preserving or improving distance vision. This can be done even if a person has cataracts.

“People who have been pronounced blind by their doctors came to us with no hope, looking at their life in despair,” Khanna said. “Then I perform the PRELEX procedure and grant them the gift of vision.”

Another procedure called SUPERLASIK is similar to LASIK but with slightly different benefits.

“It is considered safer than LASIK as the flap is very superficial and thin,” explained Khanna, who uses a device called an epikeratome at his Westlake Village location to create a small epithelial flap in the superficial layers of the cornea. He then gently applies a Wavefront-based excimer laser beam to correct the error. Because the flap is created with an epikeratome instead of a microkeratome, Khanna is able to fashion a thinner flap than in traditional LASIK surgery.

“One enormous benefit of SUPERLASIK is that it may allow patients with thin or abnormal corneas, who cannot qualify for LASIK, to improve their vision using permanent laser technology,” he said.

‘THE PATIENT COMES FIRST’
At the Khanna Institute, the refractive cataract surgeon strives to provide all of his patients with individualized state-of-the-art eye treatment with the compassion and dignity people need when getting laser vision correction.

“Since I believe vision is important to everybody irrespective of their sex, race, sexual orientation or financial status, I end up serving people all over the world; wealthy people and poor people without insurance ? all these are my clients,” said Khanna of Westlake Village, whose has established institutes in his home town as well as Beverly Hills, Valencia, Corona and Costa Mesa.

“We believe that the patient comes first. Great patient care is the foundation of our entire business.” Serving clients from all walks of life, some of Khanna’s more well-known patients are celebrities, such as teenage idol Corbin Bleu from the hit series High School Musical, who was more than pleased with the results of his wave front lasik that Khanna personally performed.

“Corbin said that he could see better than he saw with his contact lenses,” said Khanna. “His vision was better than 20/20 … he felt he would be able to perform better without the hassle of wearing contact lenses.”

Others celebs that have benefited from Khanna’s procedures include Stephanie Beacham, who plays the character Iris on Beverly Hills 90210; Tara McNamara, a television reporter and host; Sherri Saum, an American daytime Emmy-nominated actress; Kamar de los Reyes, a Cuban–Puerto Rican American actor best known for his portrayal of Antonio Vega on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live; and Nick St. Nicholas, a bassist best known for his role in the Canadian rock band Steppenwolf.

Celebrities aside, Khanna has performed more than 10,000 eye procedures for people of all ages and all walks of life ? including some who cannot afford to pay for his services.

“I did a patient for free today,” he said in a recent interview. “She does painting, so I told her to do some trade. I asked her to bring me a painting so she didn’t feel I did a favor for her. I am going to donate the painting to charity.”

When it comes to selecting an eye surgeon, trust and skill should be the main points of consideration, he emphasized. “A lot of people do price searching first,” Khanna said, “but you should find a surgeon that makes you feel comfortable. That’s the kind of patient I want to attract ? someone who’s passionate and concerned about their vision and money is secondary. First develop trust: that’s the most important thing.”

Trust was the key selling point for Ma Marietta of Pacoima, a clinical laboratory scientist at Mission Hospital. She developed cataracts and glaucoma following retinal detachment surgery.

“I read about him in Life After 50 ? I chose him because of his skill and modern technology,” she recalled.

Marietta felt that “I went to multiple doctors … nobody was feeling confident to handle my surgery. They were just pushing me around from one doctor to another.”

She underwent corrective surgery with Dr. Khanna for cataracts using the latest implant technology. Today, Marietta’s eyes “are not blurry anymore and I can see letters now that I couldn’t see before. Dr. Khanna is a wonderful doctor whose heart and soul is about helping people see better. He serves people from the heart.”

‘EVERYONE HAS A PURPOSE IN LIFE’
Looking back on his life and the people who helped him along the way, he credits his father ? the late Ramesh Khanna ? for instilling his core values at an early age.

“My father, he was always trying to help people less fortunate,” said Khanna, whose dad died 16 years ago from malaria.

With many examples to choose from, Khanna particularly remembers the time when his father came across a hungry child who ran away from home.

“My dad saw him in a park and the kid said ‘I need food ? can I sell you my shirt?’ So my dad talked to him and convinced him to go back home, and gave him $20 so he could go back. A couple weeks later, the kid came back with his parents to thank my father. … I’ve been influenced by things like that.”

With that, Khanna takes pride in giving back to the community and has donated to numerous foundations over the years, including The Westlake and Cartwheel foundation, A Taste of Town, Boys & Girls Clubs and several schools and institutions in the Ventura county area.

In recent efforts, The Khanna Institute supported Oaks Christian, a private high school in Westlake Village, by donating several surgeries, educational books and various merchandise to well-deserving students. The institute also supported Los Angeles City firefighters by offering half off all LASIK and PRELEX procedures to men and women on the fire service, including their families and those that have lost their lives in the line of duty.

“The Khanna Institute feels passionate toward helping our communities and assisting all individuals in need of vision care,” Khanna said.

Khanna came to the United States in the mid 1990s, and considered all the states in America before establishing a home in Westlake Village in Ventura County, where his pastimes include tennis, swimming, walking and field hockey.

“We looked at all 50 states; one by one, my wife and I went down the list,” recalled the father of two who has been married for 17 years. “We loved the ocean and skiing … so we wanted to live somewhere that everything would be close, something that would be conducive to raising kids, with good schools. We looked at everything from Orange County on up. We shortened our search to Thousand Oaks, and ended up in Westlake Village.”

He believes that everyone has a purpose in life, and the one that understands their purpose is the happiest. My purpose is to give vision. Even if I had all Bill Gates’ money, I would still be giving vision.”

Dr. Rajesh Khanna, a board-certified ophthalmologist and LASIK surgeon, is the founder and medical director of the Khanna Institute of LASIK & Refractive Surgery, at 1220 La Venta Dr., Suite 209, in Westlake Village. He can be contacted at 877.2KHANNA or go to www.khannainstitute.com.

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