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Bonnie An Henderson

The Power List 2020 – Power List


Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

Your three wishes?

Wow, where do I start. The first wish is for the Earth. I hope that mankind’s impact on our planet is not everlasting and does not cause pain and suffering to all the living creatures that share our habitat. The second is for our species. I wish for humankind to be more compassionate and kind to each other. I hope we evolve and stop senseless violence that we see in every country and every culture. The third is for our specialty. I wish for our future bright minds to continue to push ophthalmology forward so that we find ways to cure blindness.  

Piece of advice for your younger self?

Find mentors earlier and keep in contact with them regularly. I believe that most ophthalmologists are generous with their knowledge. People love to share their lessons learned and help young physicians find their niche. Life is busy, but it is worthwhile to take the time to reach out to people who have experienced similar obstacles or challenges.

The funniest moment of your career?

I have a very Scottish name although I am 100 percent Korean. My first name is Bonnie, which is a common Scottish name, and I happened to be married to a man whose last name is Henderson, another common Scottish name.

A few years ago, an elderly patient came to see me for cataract surgery. As he walked into my exam room, he told me that he was excited to meet a “Scottish Lass from the old country.” I chuckled and said, “I guess I don’t look very Scottish.” He stopped in his tracks, turned to me, and asked me what I meant. I realized at that moment that his vision was very poor and he couldn’t see that I was Asian.

So I told him that I was one of those dark Scots, similar to the dark Irish who have black hair. He seemed satisfied with that answer. I wondered what would happen after his cataracts were removed and his vision cleared. Fortunately, after surgery he was not disappointed that we did not share the same ancestry, and was delighted to have met a dark Scot from South Korea.


Part of the Power List 2020

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From ocular oncology to tackling neglected diseases, our 2020 Power Listers are making their mark on ophthalmology – and beyond.

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