PASSION and discipline are important in pursuing your dreams.
Known for his countless researches and symposiums, Dr Y.C. Lee has carved a name for himself in the ophthalmology world. He has dedicated his life to the cause for more than 40 years.
He achieved another milestone in his career and made the country proud too when he becomes the first Malaysian to receive the Honored Guest Award from American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) for his contributions in ophthalmology.
The award honours a luminary whose life-long clinical research, or ophthalmic industry experience and accomplishments enable the recipient to offer a unique perspective on the current state of ophthalmology and the healing arts.
Dr Lee received the recognition for his dedication and contribution to the field through his renowned surgical innovations in the management of complicated cataracts.
When asked about the recognition, Dr Lee said he was happy but also surprised at the same time as he did not expect to receive an award of such stature.
“I got an email from the former ASCRS president Kerry Solomon stating that I received the recognition and I was not expecting it to happen.
“Most of the recipients were Americans, rarely an Asian. I have received many awards but this is not the end.
“I am passionate about this field and I will continue learning.
“Ophthalmology has evolved so much over the years that we have to keep learning to make sure we stay relevant in this field,” he told reporters in his office at Lee Eye Centre in Persiaran Greenhill.
When asked what kept him going in life, his only word was “passion”.
“For me, my day starts at 5am. I can’t be waking up 9am because I will lose four hours.
“Time management is very important and that is why I am driven every single day. I am able to do all this because I have cultivated the habit of disciplining myself.”
Dr Lee is the founder and chairman of Lee Eye Centre, he is also the medical superintendent of Perak Community Specialist Hospital and a member of the Court of Examiners, College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine in Malaysia.
His core interests are in cataract and anterior segment surgery.
Before taking up eye surgery, Dr Lee undertook neurosurgery when he was a houseman at Hospital Kuala Lumpur but learnt that it did not suit him.
“I had to be on call all the time for neurosurgery. I did not like the lifestyle because I needed some balance.
“Also, with ophthalmology, there is a combination of a few things that I like as it is a discipline comprising medical and surgical aspects.
“Also, there were very few ophthalmologists at the time, it was a challenge to enter the field, ” said Dr Lee, who graduated from University of Singapore in 1967.
“So, I decided to specialise in ophthalmology and what a journey it has been. All these years, I did numerous scientific publications and contributed my input to many text books,” he said.
Dr Lee is a fellow of the International Intraocular Implant Club, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and a founding member of the Asia Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (APACRS).
“When I founded APACRS, there were few members but now we can gather about 3,000 people for any meeting or symposium. These meetings are vital for experts to share their knowledge.
He finds ways to share with others how to use Phacoemulsification and other types of eye surgeries.
“I want to help spread the concept. You teach a man how to fish, he will feed himself for life. Likewise, these experts will make good use of these methods and spread to the others in their country.
“I believe in observing, researching and analysing before deciding if it is good for patients. You don’t blindly follow people.”
Last month, a celebratory dinner was held at the Syeun Hotel and his son, Dr Lee Mun Wai, who was the host of the dinner, said his father was one of the few ophthalmologists to receive the award, which is akin to a lifetime award.
Mun Wai said he was proud to have such an accolade within his family, and that he always admired his father’s perseverance.
“He always taught us that discipline is important in succeeding in life. He is still working, researching, studying and keeping himself updated with the latest discovery on ophthalmology.
“He always told us not to go out looking for accolades. If it happens, it happens. Just stay true to yourself and others.
“I am proud to say that my father was the first Malaysian to receive this award. It is truly an honour,” he said.