Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who was in practice as an ophthalmologist for 17 years before entering politics, was in his home state on Tuesday performing free eye surgeries, CNN reported.
Senate rules prohibit doctors from practicing medicine for profit while they are serving in public office, according to USA Today
, so Paul performs surgeries for free several times a year.
"I think that we need to have people who are willing to reclaim their place in regular life after politics and not just say, ‘You go into politics and that’s what you’re going to do forever,'" he told CNN. "So I envision myself coming back to Kentucky and practicing medicine at some point."
Paul operated Tuesday on four patients from Paducah, Ky., who needed cataract surgery, but didn't have the insurance to pay for it. The patients are in their 50s and 60s, said Paul, and the surgeries would normally cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000.
"It's an amazing thing to see someone sit up and be able to see better," he told CNN.
Paul also plans to operate for free again this August, when he is scheduled to go to Guatemala with a team of surgeons from the University of Utah and perform pro bono surgeries.
"We're excited about that," he told CNN. "I operated on a bunch of kids, oh, 15 years ago in Guatemala – some of them are grown now."
The potential Republican presidential candidate founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic in 1995 to provide exams and surgeries for needy people, and has been active for years in the Children of the Americas program, which provides surgeries for children around the world.
Paul said he wishes politics was more like medicine.
"We don't argue," he told CNN. "We figure out what the problem is and we try to fix it, which is a lot more effective way."
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