Dr. Carlos Martinez specializes in correcting vision problems using laser surgery. He has made several trips to Central America to donate his time, skill and technology to some of the area’s poorest communities.
When Dr. Martinez was a child he and his family were exiled from Cuba to Spain. They lived in a poor Madrid neighborhood where Martinez dreamed of becoming either a doctor or priest. In less than four decades, Dr. Martinez has become one of the most respected and renowned eye surgeons in Southern California, having opened his own clinich where he utilizes some of the most advanced laser equipment in the country.
Dr. Martinez’ father had always wanted the very best for his family and therefore decided that Puerto Rico would offer better opportunities for his family than Spain and so the Martinez family moved.
Dr. Martinez finished his high school education in Puerto Rico. He then paid his way through college at Tulane University in New Orleans. “When I entered Tulane I could hardly speak English and the essay I wrote explaining why I wanted to go to college was full of grammatical errors. Not only that, but my classmates really laughed at the way I spoke, ” he recalls. Despite these challenges, Dr. Martinez’ good grades not only got him into Tulane, but allowed him to graduate with a degree in chemistry. He went on to win a scholarship to complete his master’s in chemical physics.
“From the time I was a kid I wanted to be one of two things in life – either a priest or a doctor,” said Dr. Martinez. “I eventually fell in love and knew I wasn’t going to become a priest, so that was when I knew that medicine was what I wanted to do.” With a dream in sight, two hardworking parents to set an example and a mother who remained insistent that he follow his dream, Dr. Martinez entered medical school. Dr. Martinez recalls, “It wasn’t easy at all and in those days there was a lot of racism in new Orleans.” Nonetheless, the tough times that might have deterred others and offered up an excuse to drop out only pushed Dr. Martinez harder to excel and show people that they were wrong. During his medical internship he did extensive laser research and even had the opportunity to work with the first surgeon to ever perform laser surgery on a human being. Dr. Martinez’ research enabled the laser to eventually be used to correct imperfections of the eye different from the usual ones of astigmatism, hypermetropy and myopia, and meant that the laser could be applied with fewer side effects.
Dr. Martinez moved to California and began his practice as a laser surgeon. His clinic, which recently received approval to implant a telescope inside the eye to help patients with cataracts or a macula spot on the cornea, is home to two of the most modern surgical devices in the United States. Currently the clinic has two other specialists and is noteworthy among the medical community of Southern California.
Dr. Martinez’ faith and desire to serve others has led him to provide free operations for those less fortunate in Central America. In 2011 he teamed up with the See Vision organization and spent a week operating on cataract patients in an extremely poor region of Honduras. During his stay, Dr. Martinez performed 46 surgeries. The See Vision team consisted of three surgeons who paid for their own air tickets and daily expenses as well as brought their own equipment and medical supplies went back to Honduras in January of 2012 and completed 96 free surgeries. The team, in which Dr. Martinez is the only Spanish-speakiing person and serves as an interpreter for patients, hopes to perform close to 150 surgeries during their visit planned for Januaray 2012. Dr. Martinez says it will be a week of hard work, but the affection and appreciation he and his group receive from patients is wonderful.