NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Gonzo

The film starts in India. A woman in the slums opens the door to a man and looks very suspicious. He takes her money and starts boiling something on the stove and leaves. The woman then takes a cup of the boiling liquid and goes into the bedroom where a little girl, named Kajal, is asleep. The camera pans away as the woman, who is Kajal’s stepmom, sits on the bed and pours the liquid on Kajal’s eyes and we hear Kajal screaming.

Cut to the United States, roughly eight years after the incident with Kajal, and Dr. Ming Wang (Terry Chen )has performed a successful surgery restoring sight to a man that was blind. He is holding a press conference with one of his best friends, Dr. Misha Bartnovsky (Greg Kinnear).

Soon after the success, Sister Marie (Fionnula Flanagan), a nun, brings Kajal (Mia SwamiNathan) to see Dr. Ming. She explains that Kajal’s stepmother purposely blinded her because beggars who are truly blind are able to get more money on the street.

After examining Kajal, Dr. Ming doesn’t believe she is a candidate for any surgery. One eye was completely destroyed, and the other hadn’t developed enough prior to its injury. After telling Sister Marie that he won’t perform the surgery, he stays up late one night to do research at his clinic. He sees a little girl run down the hallway, and he chases after her. While chasing after her, he runs into a janitor and asks him if he saw a little girl pass by him. The janitor is confused, and Dr. Ming realizes he may have imagined it. However, this is the catalyst for his decision to try the surgery for Kajal.

After performing the surgery for Kajal, the film cuts to him, Kajal, Sister Marie, and Dr. Bartnovsky in an office. Dr. Ming takes off the bandage from her eye and asks her if she can see anything. She says she can’t, and he’s heartbroken.

Flashback to a young Ming in China. He lives with his father, who is a doctor, and his pregnant mother. It’s clear they are struggling financially due to the country’s unrest, but they are doing the best they can to shelter their son from this.

We meet Lili, one of Ming’s friends, and her father. They live in the same building. One day, Lili’s father has an accident at work, and Ming’s father helps him. Unfortunately, he had chemicals spilled in his eyes, and he became permanently blinded.

Fast-forward to the worsening revolutions in China. Ming is at school when the revolutionaries come. They take his teacher away and, through peer pressure, get all the kids to burn their books. Ming is ashamed afterwards because he wants to become a doctor like his father and grandfather and realizes he won’t be able to without schooling.

The revolutions become so intense that his parents make the decision that it’s unsafe for him to travel to school. Realizing that he will no longer be able to get an education, his father teaches him how to play a musical instrument. His father believes this is his only chance to succeed professionally.
One day, with Lili and her father, Ming plays his instrument on the beach when the revolutionaries return, the same ones that took Ming’s teacher away. They say they are here to take Ming and Lili. Lili’s father, who is in a wheelchair, sticks up for them. However, the revolutionaries pull him out of his wheelchair and beat him to death. Fortunately, Lili and Ming are able to escape.

Lili and Ming have a strong bond, and they talk about a future together. Since her father’s death, Ming’s family has taken Lili in. One day, while Lili and Ming walk through a market, the revolutionaries spot them. They beat up Ming and take Lili away. She’s never seen again, and we realize that the girl that Ming thought he saw earlier in his office was Lili.

Back in the present day, another family comes to see Dr. Ming. They have an adopted daughter named Maria and want him to operate on her. He initially refuses, too scared from the failed operation on Kajal. However, Sister Marie invites Dr. Ming to see Kajal. He sees her interacting with other disabled children. Sister Marie says that although her sight wasn’t restored, a miracle occurred, and Kajal is now smiling and giving hope to the other children.

After this experience, Dr. Ming agrees to operate on Maria. Dr. Ming and Dr. Bartnovsky pour themselves into research to understand how to help Maria.

Flashback to Ming as a teenager. The revolutions have ended, and university entrance exams have begun. Ming’s parents want him to take the exams because they don’t know when the opportunity will return. He’s skeptical because he only has a few months to learn what he’s missed out on for the past four years. Despite the odds, he takes the exams and is one of four students out of twelve million in his province to get accepted.

While at the university, he and two other students are recruited to attend MIT. While at MIT, he studies for the MCAT and scores in the 99th percentile, which allows him to go to Harvard for medical school.

Back to the present, he and Dr. Bartnovsky are clearly struggling on how to help Maria. Tensions are high and they aren’t discovering a way forward. During this time, Dr. Ming remembers a time from his childhood where revolutionaries attacked the clinic where his parents worked. While the attack happened, his parents hid him in a storage closet. He remembers seeing a tiny fetus in a jar.

In this memory, he realizes that the fetus wasn’t scared and makes the connection that it must be due to the stem cells that surround the fetus. With this epiphany, he and Dr. Bartnovsky find studies in medical journals to support their theory. They eventually create a contact lens that they believe can help the eye not scar, which will make certain eye surgeries possible.

With this new lens, they are ready to perform the surgery for Maria. After the surgery, Maria, her parents, Dr. Bartnovsky and Dr. Ming are together in an office. Similar to Kajal, Dr. Ming takes off the bandage and asks Maria if she can see anything. She says yes and her mother pulls out a mirror for Maria to use. Maria then looks into it and says she looks beautiful.

During the credits, we learn that Dr. Ming and his techniques have been used in clinics across the world to restore sight to many people.