When Ike Ahmed isn't fielding questions from patients and med students about all things eyeball, he often finds himself answering one more: Does he ever sleep?
"My fellows asked me that just this morning," he says, sounding sheepish. "Last night they got an e-mail from me at 12:30 in the morning - and then another one at 5:30. They wondered if I'd set a timer."
For the record, the only timer Dr. Ahmed sets is his internal clock. The world renowned glaucoma, cataract and anterior segment surgeon, who lives and works in the Toronto area, is juggling a full workload with his family life. So not surprisingly, the only time he can fit in the odd e-mail is in the wee hours.
And no wonder. At just 38 years old, Dr. Ahmed is already recognized as one of the world's most experienced complex eye surgeons, known not only for being at the leading edge of innovative treatments, but actually developing new techniques and surgical devices. (Other eye surgeons now reach for Ahmed Diamond Knives and the Ahmed Segment, for instance.) He's also on the editorial board of six ophthalmology journals and has given more than 550 scientific presentations in Canada and around the world.
And that's when the assistant professor at the University of Toronto and clinical assistant professor at the University of Utah isn't training glaucoma specialists, residents and med students at his large tertiary glaucoma/cataract practice or performing surgery at two hospitals. Patient comments on an online rating site include "caring," "compassionate" and "cheerful."
Dr. Ahmed, who was born in Prince Albert, Sask., says it's important to make the patient feel at ease, since the procedures can be risky.
"Many times you have one chance of getting it right," he says of eye surgery. "You're working with tissue layers that are literally one tenth of a millimetre."
The stress of the job is offset by Dr. Ahmed's love for his family. He and his wife, Ruby, a family doctor with a busy practice herself, are parents to sons Yusuf, Aadam and Issa. The boys have grown up watching their dad edit teaching videos and can name eyeball parts and surgical instruments.
"They can even spell 'ophthalmology.' And that's not an easy task," he says.