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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Kathleen M. Mahon, M.D.

Picture of Kathleen M. Mahon
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Kathleen M. Mahon, M.D.

“I've always wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. My passion has been to improve eye care for kids. I would guess that I've treated more than 100,000 children over several decades. I've also tried to instill in my medical students the need to be involved in community service.”


Shelley Berkley



As a child, Kathleen Mahon loved science, math, and helping people. After graduating from the University of New Mexico, she began working as a pharmacist, but decided after several years to pursue a career in medicine hoping to have a greater impact on people's lives.

"My father and my medical school taught me that you have to pay back to others by doing well in your profession and doing good in your community," she commented. Giving back to the community has been a focal point in Kathleen Mahon's work as a pediatric ophthalmologist; a career that has brought her praise and recognition for her work with children and pre-mature babies.

Due to her commitment to quality eye care, in recent years Southern Nevada's premature infants have had the lowest incidence in the country of blindness from Retinopathy of Prematurity, a condition that afflicts many pre-mature babies.

Over the course of her distinguished career, Mahon has been a community leader in patient care and in providing services for the underprivileged. Among her most important achievements was her leadership role in founding the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Las Vegas, and the Lied Discovery Children's Museum.

Nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1st), she was a founding member of the Las Vegas Pediatric Society, is a former National Chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Section for Pediatric Ophthalmology, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House in Las Vegas since 1989. (The Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for the families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.)

"I work a lot with the underprivileged," she said. "Nevada is growing so fast that we have lots of children who need medical care but don't have insurance. I try to train the young professionals who are on their way to becoming doctors to give back to the community."

Kathleen Mahon's tireless promotion of vision screening for the children of Southern Nevada has brought her many accolades. A colleague, Paul B. Roth, MD, Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, describes her as "a creative thinker, and a leader in every activity she pursues. The Mahon Eye Clinic has restored children's sight and improved their vision since the 1980s."

A gifted teacher, Mahan acts as a precept for medical students while also serving as chief of ophthalmology for the University of Nevada School of Medicine. She is also widely published in her field with numerous articles and presentations to her credit.

She was the first woman president of the Nevada chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Outstanding Alumnus of 2005 from the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy.

"I'd like to be remembered for improving eye care for children, and for trying to help others," she said. "My next project is to help start a school for the blind in Nevada, where we don't yet have one."



Founder and Chairperson, Section for Pediatric Ophthalmology, American Academy of Pediatrics


Originator and Founder, Ronald McDonald House of Greater Las Vegas


Receives University of New Mexico Distinguished Centennial Alumnus award, one of 52 graduates so chosen from the University's first 100 years


Chief of Ophthalmology, Department of Surgery, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV


Clinical Professor in Surgery and Pediatrics, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV


Receives Khatali Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM


Elected President, American College of Surgeons, Nevada Chapter (First Woman President)


Listed in "America's Top Doctors--The Nation's Leading Medical Specialists"


Receives Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award, University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, Albuquerque, NM




University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM



Sub Specialty

Pediatric Ophthalmology