Dr. Charles and Ann Kelman Family Foundation

Contact Us


Through My Eyes

Dr. Charles D. Kelman's autobiography was published in 1985 by Crowne Publishers. It reads like a true adventure story.

From the day his high school principal told him he wasn't college material and ought to go to trade school, Charles Kelman has upset conventional wisdom-with stunning success. The book recounts the story of Dr. Kelman as a pioneering ophthalmologist who bucked the medical establishment in his search for a less risky, less intrusive and more effective method of cataract removal. Thanks to his persistence and smarts millions of people can see again, including many famous people whose stories are told in this text including actors, musicians and a well known Senator.

The 230 page book also tells the story of his burgeoning career as singer, saxophonist and comedian. It recounts his performances at Carnegie Hall, Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and performances on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and more.

New... "Epilogue II" was written by Dr. Kelman in November 2003 for his autobiography.

A Memorial Tribute to Charles D. Kelman, M.D. was held on September 13, 2004 at the St. James Theatre on Broadway and was .a celebration of Dr. Kelman's life. This very special Tribute was hosted by Dr. Frank Field and featured colleagues, family and friends, as well as video presentations and photo montages of Dr. Kelman as surgeon, performer, helicopter pilot and more. Broadway entertainers performed many of the songs that Dr. Kelman wrote.

The Memorial Tribute tape is available in VHS and DVD format and is almost 2 hours in length.

To get additional information about Dr. Kelman's book and the Memorial Tribute Tape or DVD:

Dr. Charles D. Kelman Reflections written in November 2003 as Epilogue II for his autobiography THROUGH MY EYES

Since 1985, when my autobiography THROUGH MY EYES was published, phacoemulsification has spread to every corner of the world and has become the gold standard for cataract surgery. If we estimate that two million cases (conservatively) per year in the United States have been performed, with an additional two million more worldwide, we come up with an astonishing number of 72 million phaco-emulsification surgical procedure, since 1985.

There are more than twenty companies worldwide who make the phacoemulsifier surgical device and even more companies who make ancillary equipment. Tens of thousands of people, and maybe more, make their living in one way or another because of this procedure.

The cost savings are even more remarkable. In 1958, when I was a resident in training, the average stay after cataract surgery at the Wills Eye Hospital was close to ten days. Today, there is no hospitalization required after this out patient procedure. If we assume that we are now saving, let's say only 5 days (instead of 10 days) of hospitalization (this, a very conservative number) and if we estimate a hospital day's cost at 500 dollars (also very conservative,) then the money saved by Medicare and other insuring companies is a staggering amount. Two million operations per year, with a 5-day hospital stay, at 500 dollars per day, times 18 years equals 90 billion dollars saved since 1985.

It makes me reflect on the current trend, to let a young person choose whatever profession he or she wants. After all they say "it's his life, so he knows best". If my father had had that attitude, I might be scraping out a living playing the saxophone at weddings and bar mitzvahs and there might be a lot of old folks around with irritated, astigmatic, aphakic eyes.

The personal and professional suffering described in the book has been replaced in my life with many blessings. At one time, doctors would literally spit on the floor in front of me as I walked the exhibit floors. Many of these same doctors have become my ardent supporters and have bestowed on me numerous honors and awards, to name a few:

The first recipient of the annual Innovator's Award from the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery,*** recipient of the Binkhorst Medal,*** Inventor of the Year in New York (1992) ***the NATIONAL MEDAL OF TECHNOLOGY, presented by President Bush (Sr.) at the White House,*** named "Ophthalmologist of the Century" by the Canadian Implant Association, ***elected Chairman of the New York Academy of Medicine, Ophthalmology section, ***elected President of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, ***named #1 in survey of the Most Influential Ophthalmologist of the Century, ***inducted into the Ophthalmology Hall of Fame,*** naming of the research facility at Wills Eye Hospital, the "Charles D. Kelman Laboratory and Library", *** The Pisart Vision Award from Lighthouse International, ***The Laureate Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology,*** Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

In my other career, I wrote a musical about Columbus entitled, "The Marrano" which was performed by the Massachusetts Repertory Theater, and had an instrumental CD produced by Columbia Records, but I had little time for much else besides Ophthalmology.

My personal life took a turn for the better. I remarried, very happily, and today, at age 73, I have three sons, the oldest is 11, and the twins are four and a half (at the same time maintaining a continuous relationship with my older daughters Lesley, Jennifer and son David).

Life however is full of ironies. Four and a half years ago, I was living one of the highlights of my professional career, as I received the award for "The Most Influential Ophthalmologist of the Century." One week later I was diagnosed with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. That was probably the biggest roller coaster ride of my life. Since then I have had innumerable chemotherapy treatments and four major surgical procedures. In spite of that, I have been able to share many wonderful moments with my family and friends. I must say that at times like these, you find out who your real friends are.

I attribute my continued presence on earth to wonderful medical and surgical care, wonderful support from my wife, my family and my friends, research into some ancillary treatments, and lucky star. I am, after all, one of the luckiest men in the world.
Through My Eyes The Charlie Kelman Story
Additional Information

Email for more information

back to top  
©2010 Dr. Charles and Ann Kelman Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
Website design by Glass Castle and Infinitech, LLC.