Things They Don’t Tell You is a weekly online column that dives deep into the lives of Prestige 40 Under 40 class of 2020 laureates, where they share little-known stories and offer insights on things that go under-the-radar. This week, we get candid with Dr Claudine Pang, Eye Surgeon, Ophthalmologist and Medical Director at Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre.
I wanted to be eye doctor because I was enthralled by the beauty of our eye and the retina; and also, because I found out that the eyes are truly a window into the entire body. Many conditions affecting our body often manifest and reveal themselves in our eyes. Diseases such as anemia, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, autoimmune diseases can be detected from looking into the eyes.
My greatest achievements in my career include being the first woman in the world to receive the William H Ross Surgical Vitreoretinal Fellowship, followed by the establishment of private practice with my eight-member crew and Singapore’s first eye health self-management mobile app, which has led me to receive the Women’s Weekly Great Woman of Our Time Award 2019 and Prestige 40 under 40 List 2020.
I’m passionate about making good eye care accessible for everyone. No one should have to go without eye care just because they have no time or no money. That is why I created Eye Quotient – a social enterprise committed to bringing eye care to corporate organisations as well as underprivileged societies in Singapore — and Eye Care Without Borders, a charity initiative aimed at giving eye care to underprivileged locally and overseas.
It makes me happy when I hear people say that they are really grateful to me for helping them regain their vision and quality of life again.
My family and children are my biggest achievements in my personal life. I think a successful marriage and happy family need constant work. They don’t just happen naturally. I put in considerable thought and effort in maintaining the balance that is needed to keep our family thriving together.
God forgive me, but I can be too hard on my children sometimes.
I am inspired by Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister because she is a strong female leader who leads with her heart. She has gained the respect of many for her responses in crisis and to issues such as climate change and gender inequality. I admire her for her courage to embrace multi-tasking for all the different roles in life, including being a mother during her time in office. She makes it known that women should never have to choose between family and a successful career, which is what I believe in strongly as well.
I’m a perfectionist. My commitment to perfection is what allows me to achieve consistently excellent surgical and visual outcomes for my patients.
But being a perfectionist can also be my weakness at times because while I strive for perfection in every aspect, I tend to take a long time to complete assignments which are important to me. I’m overly meticulous to the point of being compulsive about the results and I’m often too self-critical if outcomes are not up to my expectations.
Fear is a challenge to be conquered.
I’ve learnt that there are no failures but only stepping stones to success. If we have a positive outlook, we will be able to go further and be happier in life.
I’d tell my younger self, “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
I’m sick of hearing my patients say, “Oh you look so young!”
I’d rather be shot than have cosmetic surgery done to any part of my body.
We can be more compassionate by imagining ourselves in other people’s shoes.
It is so important to be able to share success with others and make a difference in other people’s lives.
Once I was rushing out of my car, I left my handbag on the car seat in plain view and my car window got smashed by a thief. I lost my handbag (with wallet and passport in it) and had to repair my car window for that moment of folly! I was overseas at the time and forgot that crime rates are not as low as in our safe Singapore.
(Main and featured image: Prestige Singapore; all other images courtesty of Dr Claudine Pang)