The Arun Gulani Story
The Arun Gulani Story is an ongoing journey of passion, performance & inspiration.
Story of a Visionary, through his patients’ eyes.
Presently a topic sought by biographers and even movie scripts by those touched by Dr. Gulani having witnessed his fearless confidence in unleashing his own internal GPS which allows him to perform in this external world beyond the norm of business and self-interest with a flair and consistency unparalleled in the world of medicine. Dr. Gulani, gifted with a multitude of talents could have become anything he wanted and decided to change people’ lives, the rest as they say is History!
Over 3 decades, little has changed with him as he still gets excited with every surgical outcome, still is averse to advertising and hype, still intensely dedicated to each patient, still relentless in chasing beyond 20/20 vision, still innovating to break the status quo and still impatient to selflessly share with his colleagues, fascinated by why they don’t see the future as clearly as he can.
30 years ago, Dr.Gulani witnessed and performed eye surgery and fell in love. The quiet surgery room, the calm serene music, focused light of the surgical microscope on the patient’s eye like one unit and time stood still. If this setting and surgery were not enchanting enough, then he was blown away with next-day patient gratification on their vision recovery. He was now head over heals in love.
His passion, talent and dreams had aligned – Forever!
His journey in eye surgery (Ophthalmology) started in India; land of some of the most competitive medical and surgical candidates and among this fiercely competitive pool of thousands, he topped the entire university to acquire the most coveted Ophthalmology seat with a Gold Medal. While in residency where work itself is overwhelming as the lowest in hierarchy Dr. Gulani already achieved notoriety of a teacher to his own competing colleagues, had patients traveling to him from across town and even conducted research with minimal resources. It may be at this very initial time in his career that he had already developed a unique and personal relation with his own patients. They would return his dedication for them with fierce loyalty and support for his dreams; a trait that continues to this day.
After working from early morning through a daily load of nearly 200 – 300 patients, then taking care of the admitted patients, while studying and teaching, he was impatient to materialize his innovations and ideas to improve eye care and challenge deep-rooted yet unclear concepts in eye surgery.One such incidence is when he sought permission from the department chair of the Ob & Gyn department to bring his eye patients at close to midnight (after their department had closed for the day) to apply their Color Doppler technology to tumors in his patient’s eyes. His patients would loyally come at these unusual hours as they believed in his efforts in seeing how it helped them and this work resulted in an International research publication and eventually into a textbook that unknowingly catapulted him into the medical limelight – globally.
Not knowing the importance of his work, he did not shy away from writing to the topmost researchers and clinicians in the USA and UK and was astonished to learn when they said he was first in the world to have authored a textbook on such an application of technology and foresight.
During this time, he also applied his work to philanthropy and became an ardent participant for pro bono work for Lions International as well as Rotary Clubs worldwide.
Patients after their surgery with Dr. Gulani would wait in a queue to take pictures with their Rockstar doctor and this maybe was the start of what has now become a revolution with his patients globally; the start of patient selfies.
Therein as a training resident from a developing country, besides completing a competitive surgical training, he had already published research papers, authored a textbook, spoken at prestigious conference podiums and had international stalwarts directly corresponding with him.
Through all this he realized his passion to make people see without glasses. He called glasses and contact lenses a “Crutch” and believed it was every patient’s birthright to see with full freedom from such “crutches”. In this direction, he sought out pioneers from various parts of the world who were working on this budding subspecialty and had still not succeeded in its entirety.
Passage to USA;
As perhaps among the world’s youngest eye surgeons, Dr. Gulani’s reputation spread far and wide and he received an invite for advanced training in the USA to study the art of making people see without glasses (a buccaneer specialty in those times when eye surgery was limited to disease, not vanity of glasses).
Dedicated to his dream for his patients and always unaware of limits, he continued to surge his innovations and publications and was surprised to be honored with the Becton Dickinson Career Achievement Award conferred to him in Philadelphia in 1996. He was seated at the round table among contenders, all of whom were two to three times his age and close to retirement in their chosen careers.
A young surgeon in his twenties who had yet to start his “Career” was conferred the “Career Achievement Award” among contenders from different vocations all over the world at the end of their careers. There were many such moments at that early stage of Dr. Gulani’s career where while receiving numerous awards among known stalwarts, he would doubt if his being on that esteemed list could be a typological mistake. Similar to his absolute surprise when surgical instruments designed by him were given the name “Gulani” by prestigious industries starting a trend to then lead into his “Gulani Innovations” legacy.
Innovator’s awards by the eye care industry for invented surgical instruments and peer recognition at global podiums provided the shot in the arm for Dr. Gulani, reinforcing his faith that hard work and genuine foresight gets due recognition despite his young age and lack of an influential mentor.
Worldwide awards and recognitions became an ongoing part of Dr. Gulani’s career where his fearless confidence and unflinching approach to his profession and personal life made him a force to reckon with. His documented work and patient outcomes became his strength that underscored his position as a trustworthy world leader.
Having trained in the US, Dr. Gulani could have returned back to India as a pioneer bar none and taken the world by storm given that he had learnt an art that few surgeons could envision and that too at a time when people were finally looking for options for life without glasses. While to practice in the USA, in spite of his stellar resume, he would have to repeat another residency which would be 4 long years and that too, if he could even get in since this opportunity was not known to be available to foreign graduates.
Dr. Gulani’s father was visiting with him when he mentioned his dilemma and his father said, if you are that good then “Swim with the sharks” implying that in India he would surely be a whale but to test his mettle, try and compete with those that are at the apex of eye surgery (ie. USA). He then took a very difficult road to endure 4 years of residency and irony since he would be sitting in class as a junior most resident while his teaching professors would be reading from his published papers.
Again an anomaly, Dr. Gulani as a junior resident in the United States was invited to travel and teach worldwide to packed eye surgeon audiences; so powerful was his reputation and work. Of course, he was given no leeway and had to complete all duties of a resident and pass all exams which he did with stellar outcomes.
Very early in life, Dr. Gulani realized that he had a gift. Besides patients, friends and colleagues calling it different names like perceptive intelligence, genius, prodigy along with titles like daVinci of Eye Surgery, Man of Vision, etc. he observed that it was odd that while his colleagues right from college and medical schools in India and USA would stress over exams, he would in fact relax and not read at all. This unconventional confidence of performance was consistently confirmed by his superlative ranks and exam outcomes.
He also realized that when he learnt surgery, he could learn on his own and conceptualize difficult situations easily while his colleagues and teachers struggled to understand despite his best efforts to convey. Earlier on, even as a medical student in India, he was found more in the professor’s section of the library which had American journals rather than in the student section where his contemporaries read mandated textbooks.
In sports and every parallel walks of life, he could pick up skills without being mentored and this ability also was displayed in his sense of fashion where he could easily conceptualize his wardrobe and matching ensemble while failing to understand why people dress so poorly or uniformly with no expression of individuality.
His second passion, Fashion, is obvious in his personally designed suits that he wears every day to his office including specially designed surgical scrubs to surgery. This penchant for elegance and symmetry is reflected in his surgery which make him a very fastidious surgeon having raised eye surgery itself to an ART. This flair is also visible in his design for his office and surgical spa where colors to ambience are in tune with each aspect of his delivery.
Becoming a Global KOL (Key Opinion Leader):
Repeated confirmations of this unbelievable ability to visualize and design the future especially from observers, friends, family, patients and industry helped him understand that there was something odd (in a nice way) that he could foresee, conceptualize and even execute what many said was impossible.
It is rare to have an industry leader who is always right. Most Key opinion leaders are right some times and blame their bad leading decisions on “Experience” and “Evolution”.
Dr. Gulani has over 30 years shown a track record of his correct sense of future direction in even standing staunchly on his ground while majority of eye surgeons sway with industry and advertised hype only in the end over time to be proven wrong.
Add his foresight to Dr. Gulani’s vast experience worldwide with pioneers and he has always been right in predicting and hence offering what is exactly correct for each patient without hype or excuse.
Gulani KLEAR system: Holistic approach to VISION!
Having realized with uncanny consistency that he has always been right about what technology will work and which wont and how each patient should be correctly addressed instead of hoping and gaming surgical technology and technique choices, Dr. Gulani decided to use this Gift to help lessen the learning curve of his eye doctor colleagues worldwide by prolific writing in medical periodicals, speaking on global conference podiums and also sharing his patient’s stories on social media.
While most eye surgeons offer procedure and technologies they are limited to, Dr.Gulani has mastered the entire spectrum of surgeries and technologies to create a systematic approach for every patient with a unique design and vision goal. This includes all of the following surgeries with unlimited permutations for each patient’s best vision potential.
Lasik (Laser Vision Surgery/NexGenLASIK/ LaZrPlastique/PRK/Wavefront Lasik/Bladeless, Lasik/Lasek/PTK/Smile/Relex/SBK/EpiLasik/ Corneoplastique techniques etc), Myopia (Nearsightedness)/Hyperopia (Farsightedness)/ Astigmatism, Presbyopia (After 40 reading glasses/Readers/Cheaters/Progressive glasses/Kamra), Cataract (Multifocal lens implants/Panoptix/Trifocal/ReStor/Crystalens/Tecnis/Symfony/Premium Cataract Surgery or, Cataract surgery complication correction), Radial Keratotomy Correction/RK, Pinguecula/Pterygium/ Red Eye, Keratoconus/Collagen Crosslinking /C3R/Intacs, ICL (Implantable Contact Lenses/Visian ICL), Corneal Scar/ Lasik Complication (Glare/haloes/Ghosting), Dry Eye/MGP/m.o.i.s.t., Corneoplastique®
Taking this selfless path when many in his place would rather keep their ability secret for financial gains, Dr. Gulani took upon himself the arduous task of translating how his mind thinks and how his hands execute vision for each patient from normal to impossible.
In this continued desire to steer colleagues away from “cookie-cutter” surgery, he has given birth to a holistic, systematized protocol called KLEAR ™ which involves over 40 techniques and infinite permutations to help people see without glasses by using breakthrough technologies singly and in sequence using his proprietary GPS™ (Gulani Planning System) therewith custom-tailoring surgery to each patient’s eyes to even aim for vision beyond 20/20.
The Eye Industry has aptly named him “Big Brother” for his firm yet warm manner of correcting teaching colleagues while on podiums. Never schmoozing or playing into the majority, he has built a reputation of being a surgeon’s surgeon purely based on his work, stellar outcomes and generosity to teach and lead fellow eye care providers.
Never witnessed a surgeon who attracts so much Awe and inspiration and that too from surgeons themselves considered stalwarts worldwide. Throughout this webinar you can see Dr.Gulani’s power and astute experience pouring out to warmly but firmly add critical guidance like a “Big brother” who will not allow any one to get away and yet provides his vast experience and renowned skills as an example to learn from.
To see presenting surgeons change their lectures while on podium/webinar since they know Dr. Gulani will be presiding was amazing to observe.
The outpouring of accolades from attending surgeons testifies to this unparalleled experience.– Editor
Dr. Gulani in his desire to share and encourage fellow eye surgeons, has been documenting his work, one patient at a time for decades. His patients are only eager to share, many having gone through multiple surgeons who said “Nothing can be done”
His ability to remember names of each of his worldwide patients no matter how many years ago he performed their surgery is astonishing and his eyes light up on seeing them as he personally sees and measures his outcomes to keep the data honest. This camaraderie and pride for his own patients have likened him to an artist proud of his masterpieces that he has striven so hard to perfect and send out into the world as his pride and proof of performance.
Be the Best!:
Dr. Gulani’s signature handshake with his patients many of them young enough to start their careers wherein he makes them promise to be the best in their profession. Till date, patients from all over the world keep updating their inspiring surgeon with their achievements and progress that he truly cherishes.
Not having had a formal mentor in his own journey for perfecting vision for his patients, Dr.Gulani kept searching for a mentor throughout his career traveling worldwide to pioneers many of whom still could not understand his futuristic and innovative concepts.
To ensure no upcoming doctor faces such challenges, Dr. Gulani developed his own teaching style of encouraging surgeons to perform like artists while encouraging innovation to the point of being firm which led to his being called “Big Brother” by the industry globally. Few if any doctor carries such a force of fan following not only among experienced colleagues but also among new generation mentees and students.
Though auditoriums fill up on his arrival, it is not unusual to see Dr. Gulani surrounded by doctors and industry leaders alike for a curbside consult whether it is regarding a complex surgery case or to bounce of new ideas or just to hear from the “Seer” of eye surgery.
Its “Lights, Action” everywhere from podium to exhibit floors at major conference venues attended by thousands of eye surgeons from around the world.
Most Imitated Doctor in the World:
Imitation in the best form of flattery is underscored in Dr. Gulani’s case in the world of medicine.
Over 3 decades ago, patients of Dr. Gulani would give him a thumbs up when asked how they were doing and this trend has been consistent with his patients who take pictures with him to post on social media either singly or in groups flying back even today. Other eye surgeons have emulated this “Gulani Thumbs Up” sign in their recent social media pictures.
Doctors are consistently inspired to dress like Dr. Gulani as he encourages colleagues to express their individuality and to step out of the bland blue, black and greys.
Surgical artistry has become a hot pursuit for colleagues globally as Dr. Gulani teaches his techniques along with patient centric practice philosophies.
Fire, Passion & Empathy:
People have often inquired what drives Dr. Gulani. In his interview he did reveal his personal challenges when as a medical student he was faced with having to select doctors for his mother’s cancer and his father’s heart surgery.
His mind at that time had only one ask; he wanted the best in the world! Price was not important and he could sell himself if needed so clear was his ask. Having met many charlatans and so called specialists, he confirmed in his heart that he would be the best on the planet so no patient would have to worry about that aspect and not only that but empathize with each patient and then treat them like his own family. This trend continues till today underscoring what is know as the “Gulani Difference”
No Hype, No Nonsense:
Starting a practice from scratch with no patients, no mentor and no referral base with an air of superior confidence combined with an attitude of integrity few businesses can stand with, Dr. Gulani set about perhaps the most difficult path of business; word of mouth by the world’s most demanding patient clientele where he has to perform on each eye of not only each patient but their families and friends who all are referred to him with the same expectations no matter how complex their individual eye may be.
No schmoozing of referring doctors, no deals or hype and no luring of any patient or false promises and advertised jargon, Dr. Gulani’s practice has attracted business minds from the world of eye surgery inquisitive to learn his marketing strategy only to find that he has none.
A doctor-patient relation based on trust and performance highlighted by personalized compassion bar none.
Show Me the Patients!:
Jerry Maguire’s “Show me the money” was a spin off on Dr. Gulani’s line from 3 decades ago ‘Show me the patients”, wherein Dr. Gulani believes that a patient on camera is the only proof of success.
This trend continues till date where he records his patient’s reactions (with no incentives) to provide ongoing evidence shared by patients themselves raising the bar on traditional reporting by statistics and making his own work accountable at the highest level.
The Price he Pays:
Having embarked on a very difficult path of building a practice based on surgical outcomes without schmoozing for referrals or offering discounts, Dr. Gulani built his reputation with stellar outcomes with remarkable consistency and stuck to his guns of a “No-advertising” preference with a purely word of mouth referral base and on top of that allowing patients to post unrestricted, non-incentivized and non-monitored stories of their experience with him.
With good looks, worldwide repute along with a dynamic personality and fan following, not to mention his penchant for fashion, Dr. Gulani would be an ideal fit for 5th Avenue New York or Rodeo Drive, California. Instead, since he had been recruited as head of department of Lasik at University of Florida in Jacksonville, he continued to stay in town especially since his children were already settled in local schools.
Allowing patients to post themselves on their social media can be scary for any doctor since they can write anything. Herein lies Dr. Gulani’s complete confidence in his work and care.
Many of his patients apart from insisting on flying their families to him, try to keep his practice a secret since they don’t want to share his name in fear that he may get so busy he may lose his personal touch for them.
Since over 60% of Dr. Gulani’s practice is dedicated to fixing complications of other eye surgeons, he is always under scrutiny by other surgeons who may be waiting to catch him make one mistake and mostly even not be complimentary of his amazing outcomes that they themselves failed to deliver to their patient who left to travel to him. Yet the consistent accolades conferred by his colleagues on his work is testimony not only to Dr. Gulani’s skills but the status he holds in the eyes of his colleagues globally.
Patients marvel at how energetic Dr. Gulani is and always smiling never disclosing any difficulties he may be facing as he executes his passion to deliver his best for their vision. Whether it is with his staff or patients all of whom he treats like family, his demeanor is one of support and encouragement while celebrating each day with a child-like enthusiasm. This attitude was put to test during recent hurricanes, Michael and Irma, both of which ravaged Dr. Gulani’s home and his unfortunate story was a topic of discussion locally and nationally.
At this delicate time of personal stress, he was approached by private equity firms to buy out his practice for an attractive 8 figure with relocation to Malibu, California to cater exclusively to celebrities, Dr. Gulani refused to be moved by money and despite looming costs, invested himself to build the world’s first Cataract Surgery SPA in Jacksonville, Florida.
Vision for the World:
With a dedicated desire to help people see, unshakable integrity and focused quest for vision beyond 20/20 while sharing his work selflessly with colleagues and industry worldwide, Dr. Gulani has turned Jacksonville into the vision destination for the world.
With patients and visiting surgeons flying in from all over the world, Dr. Gulani has proved that geography does not matter and has many a times been credited for causing medical tourism in Jacksonville second only to Mayo clinic. Dr. Gulani, a single, non-advertising doctor and the latter, a multi-million dollar conglomerate with a strong advertising base.
“Dr. Gulani has been instrumental in turning Jacksonville into a vision destination for the world. I’m constantly blown away at the number of people that travel thousands of miles because they only trust Dr. Gulani with their difficult cases. We are very fortunate that the eye surgeries of the future are being performed daily in our backyard.” – MAYOR Lenny Curry