Meet Vivek R. Patel, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, ophthalmology residency program and neuro-ophthalmology fellowship program director, Department of Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine of USC; director, Neuro-ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus, USC Eye Institute, Keck Medicine of USC.
A board-certified ophthalmologist in both the United States and Canada, Dr. Patel is highly skilled in the medical and surgical management of neuro-ophthalmological disorders, including double vision and adult strabismus. Here’s what you won’t find on his resume:
He never rushes his patients.
“Patients will often see a specialist for what they believe to be a complicated problem. It takes time to develop a complete understanding of the ailment, so we certainly can’t rush this process. Because patient history is a big part of my approach, my patients will see that I may ask many questions and delve into details of their health, past and present. I try to get across that they can reach out to me on a personal basis very quickly. Many times when patients come to see me, they already have seen other specialists, but might still have unanswered questions. I try to be thorough by spending time to explain what the problem might be and what we can do about it.”
His childhood was split between Zambia and Canada.
“I was born in Lusaka, Zambia, in Africa. My parents are of Indian origin, but moved overseas to broaden their professional horizons. As both Zambia and India were both part of the British Commonwealth at the time, many Indian citizens were able to avail themselves to good opportunities there. I lived there until I was about 7 years old, at which point we moved to a tiny town in Northern Alberta, Canada. We eventually moved to Calgary, where I lived until I was 18.”
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His hobbies include visiting NFL stadiums.
“You might think that, being from Canada, I would be a Canadian Football League fan, but I’m actually a huge National Football League fan. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many different stadiums, but my favorite stadium is the Raymond James Stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play. The side of the stadium is decorated with a pirate ship, and the atmosphere was great.”
He switched majors from actuarial science to physiology and anatomy.
“I started studying a branch of math, science and statistics called actuarial science. It seemed to be a very good career path, but in the first year, I realized it was not exactly what I enjoy. In looking through my friends’ biology and chemistry books, I thought those subjects might better suit me. The University of Saskatchewan in Canada had a very good physiology program that integrated the medical sciences. I completed a double major in physiology/anatomy and as soon as I switched gears into this realm, I knew I was in the right place.”
Had he not become a physician, he might have studied geography.
“Moving quite a bit with my family might have imprinted something in me, including a desire to learn more about people and places. This created an early fascination with geography and different cultures. I could envision a career in which I would be connected with many parts of the world.”
Dr. Patel’s unique expertise includes understanding the complexities of the visual pathways and applying that knowledge to specific surgical procedures. His primary focus is treating patients with vision problems of neurological origin, including optic nerve disorders, stroke, brain tumors and double vision. Dr. Patel leads the neuro-ophthalmology service at the USC Eye Institute.