Not many people can claim to be both a surgeon and an accomplished dancer. However, when describing Dr. Vandana Reddy, a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist and skilled performer of Kuchipudi dance (a type of Indian classical dancing), the word multifaceted almost seems like an understatement. Dr. Reddy is not only talented, but she also enjoys sharing her talents. She has been a part of several medical and surgical outreach efforts and has also found ways to help those in need through her dancing with the Srivaani Kuchipudi Dance Academy.
Dr. Reddy did not always know she wanted to be a surgeon, let alone an ophthalmologist. She just knew she wanted to make an impact, something that she learned well while attending Wellesley College, a well-known women’s college in Boston. In medical school, she discovered she liked surgery, especially smaller scale surgeries known as micro-surgeries. She did not begin to consider ophthalmology as a career path until she ended up doing a rotation in ophthalmology during her fourth year of medical school. From there she quickly realized it was an ideal fit.
“Ophthalmology provides an environment that is balanced with both clinical medicine and surgery and where you’re seeing patients from all walks of life…people sometimes take their vision for granted and I love being able to help when I can,” she said. She pursued her training in ophthalmology at the world-famous Mayo Clinic and then pursued further sub-specialty training at the Kellogg Eye Institute at the University of Michigan. She met many outstanding clinicians and mentors along her path and is very grateful to them.
Over the years, Dr. Reddy has devoted a great deal of her time and expertise to medical and surgical outreach through a variety of programs, including the Salvation Army Free Eye Clinics, Medical Camps and Migrant Health Clinics, and the Student Sight Savers Programs.
“It’s always been a big part of why I went into medicine … providing medical care to people who don’t always have access,” she said.
During her residency, Dr. Reddy did a rotation at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, a non-for-profit eye care institution in Hyderabad, India. During that rotation, she participated in providing free cataract surgery for people from the surrounding villages.
“These aren’t just mild cataracts,” she said. “It takes them out of the workforce. They’re blind and someone has to stay home and take care of them. So, getting this cataract out allows them to go back into the workforce and be functional in their daily life, allows their family members to go back to work and provide for the family and contribute to the economy. The institute’s mission is profound and inspiring.”
Dr. Reddy’s passion for helping others even plays into her dancing. The shows she performs in are to raise money for charity. Most of the charities her dance group funds are in India. Over the years, they have raised money for organizations that provide free surgeries, free access to medical care, and a wide variety of other services.
Being a part of that charitable effort is one of the reasons Dr. Reddy keeps dancing. Another reason is her dance teacher, who has been a major role model for her since she started dancing at age eight.
“I’ve known her from such a young age, and she’s probably one of the biggest influences in my life,” she said. “I enjoy dancing, but I do it for her as well.”
When Dr. Reddy isn’t seeing patients or dancing, she also enjoys delving into the world of Marvel and DC comics, gardening, running, watching movies and theatre, traveling internationally, discussing feminism, and exploring the food scene in Atlanta. With her many talents and passions, a conversation with Dr. Reddy is never dull.