Eye surgeon, Greater Baltimore Medical Center Sudeep Pramanik's career is all but dedicated to the cornea, specifically to cutting-edge transplants of the tissue so critical to vision. Until very recently, when patients came in, blinded by a cloudy, swollen cornea, surgeons would replace it with a healthier one harvested from a dead person. But now, Pramanik is one of the first doctors doing partial corneal transplants, slicing off only razor-thin, damaged layers of the eye, but preserving the rest. In addition to the transplants, he treats eye trauma, steps in to repair complications from cataract surgery, and takes care of corneal infections, often cause by people wearing their contact lenses too long. But perhaps even more meaningful for the surgeon are the yearly trips he makes to India, his family's homeland, to set up free and low-cost eye clinics. In the poorest corners of Bangalore and Calcutta, he's not checking people's eyes for disease; he's using his business savvy to create campaigns to entice distrustful villagers to get screenings. (Pramanik briefly flirted with a career in marketing, but after an internship at Enron's marketing department, he changed his mind.) "For 10, 15, 20 U.S. dollars you can do a surgery that can give someone's vision back," the surgeon says. "At the end of your career, you'd like to know that you've done something." Pramanik, the son of two physicians, lives in Sparks with his wife and 13-month-old son.
Doug Kapustin, Special to The Baltimore Sun