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David Chang

The Power List 2020 – Power List


Clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco; private practice in Los Altos, CA, USA

Your three wishes?

That foods that taste good were actually good for you. 

That there was a sleep substitute drug that precluded the need to ever sleep. 

That a genie would grant me 10 more wishes. For ophthalmology, I’d wish that we had a drug that prevented lens aging (presbyopia and cataract), sustained release extraocular drug delivery systems to treat intraocular disease, and the financial resources (government or philanthropy) to establish enough ophthalmology training programs in developing countries.

The funniest moment of your career?

My son is athletic and loved little league baseball, but at age 9, the players themselves start pitching instead of the coaches. He was making errors in the outfield and striking out a lot, which humiliated and demoralized him to the point that he dropped baseball before the following season. During his next back-to-school exam, the pediatrician asked my wife: “Has David tested his vision?” Well, I hadn’t and he was quite myopic already! He was the proverbial cobbler’s kid.

Piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Test your children’s vision before they reach age 9.

What was the most unexpected turn your career took? 

As the son of an anesthesiologist, I already knew in high school that I wanted to be a general surgeon. However, one week during my general surgery rotation as a third-year medical student in 1979, the ophthalmology department presented surgical grand rounds. They showed a 35-mm film of Charlie Kelman performing a new cataract technique called phacoemulsification, and that was my “light bulb” moment sparking an interest in ophthalmology. My career has been focused on phaco ever since that pivotal moment, and I chose private practice over academia because I didn’t want to give up doing cataract surgery myself.


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.

Go to The Power List 2020

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