PICTURES: Vision for healthcare in Bendigo

FAROKH Irani comes from a long line of health professionals.

Mr Irani's mother is an anesthetist, his father is a heart specialist and his aunts and uncles are all doctors.

Mr Irani's career as an ophthalmologist, or eye specialist and eye surgeon, was shaped during his childhood.

"My mother used to work at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital doing a lot of anesthetics," Mr Irani said.

"So as a child I used to go to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital a lot just because she used to take us in the car, see her patients and we'd wait for her.

"That's how I got interested in eyes because she'd tell me stories from her work there."

Mr Irani had been working part-time in Bendigo for a decade, travelling to Bendigo from Melbourne, before deciding he wanted to move to the region last year.

He has private rooms in Chum Street and does procedures at St John of God Hospital Bendigo, Bendigo Health and Bendigo Day Surgery.

Mr Irani is also a consultant for teaching and research to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and the Austin Hospital.

With 19 years of ophthalmology experience under his belt, the American-born doctor specialises in cataract surgery, femtosecond laser cataract surgery and refractive surgery. He also treats macular degeneration and glaucoma.

"I made the move to Bendigo last year and my wife and kids are now here," he said.

"My wife is French-born and my two children, 6 and 4, go to school here and we just love it.

"Why did we come to Bendigo? 

"We love it because it's a friendly city.

"It has a vibrancy to it and it has great amenities. 

"I love the architecture as well, it's just beautiful.

"And it's excellent for our young family - we just love the schools and it's a nice place to live."

Mr Irani trained in Melbourne, Sydney and overseas and has a special flare for artistic patients.

Mr Irani restored the sight of Bendigo artist Stan Thomas who sold several of his works at St John of God Hospital's art show last month.

"He's one of many artistic patients I've done," Mr Irani said.

"I have 19 years experience in ophthalmology, so I've been a doctor for 24 years, and have a lot of experience which is what patients have to look at when they chose a specialist.

"When artists start to get early cataracts they notice the affects a lot faster and returning sight to an artists is not just about returning their purity - it's about returning their colour, their contrast, their brightness.

"I can't mention names but along with some high-profile artists I've also done quite a few people in political circles and celebrities as well.

"Every patient is important and everyone's eyes are important but out of everyone the most important patient was my mother-in-law.

"Only because she's always there to remind me if I've done something well or not.

"But luckily she's very happy."

Mr Irani was reunited with his former patient Mr Thomas last week.

"My distance viewing has vastly improved," Mr Thomas said.

"I was a bit worried, I was more worried than some people would be because I'd hate to lose my sight.

"It made it much easier not having to leave Bendigo for treatment."

Mr Irani said there was no reason to waste your time, energy and money going to Melbourne for treatment when you could get high-quality care in Bendigo.

"We are internationally trained people coming to Bendigo," he said.

"I did all my medical training in Australia, my ophthalmology training in Australia, and then went overseas for the really, really sophisticated, meet the experts type training.

"It's is great for Bendigo because we're bringing the world to Bendigo and we're bringing our expertise here.

"Also, just because specialists are in Bendigo doesn't mean we lose contact.

"Bendigo is now a vibrant, sophisticated, medical city with the new hospital going up and specialists like me that are here are always cross pollinating with our colleagues around the world and in the big cities.

"I was in Melbourne recently and my whole weekend was in a meeting.

"I'm going to a meeting Sydney and in September I'm going to a meeting in London.

"So we're always consulting and sharing our experiences and techniques.

"I also still keep in touch with the Eye and Ear and the Austin where I have a role in teaching and research.

"So just because we're here, we're not isolated."

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