The annual Mission Cataract program allows staff to extend its mission to people who need assistance due to unfortunate circumstances.
Center For Sight held its annual Mission Cataract event last week, during which cataract surgeons performed free life-changing cataract surgeries in the Sarasota and Naples AAAHC-accredited surgery centers.
The event—held July 27 and August 3 and funded by the Center For Sight Foundation and Operation Sight—annually helps individuals who cannot afford to pay for cataract surgery get the vision-correcting care they need. Among the cataract surgeons participating were David Shoemaker, MD; William Soscia, MD; Joshua Kim, MD; Joaquin De Rojas, MD: Priya Mathews, MD: Jon Berlie, MD; Glenn Campbell, MD and George Brinnig, MD.
“At Center For Sight, we are dedicated to protecting and restoring the precious gift of sight,” said David Shoemaker, MD. “Year after year, Mission Cataract allows our staff to extend that mission to people that need our assistance due to unfortunate circumstances. This matters and reminds us of why we do what we do.”
Stories of this year’s Mission Cataract recipients
Following cataract surgery, William Stephens, Jr. of Englewood is most looking forward to a better quality of life. “My eyesight makes my life very difficult. Not being able to complete everyday tasks makes me feel like less of a man.”
Gary Eutsey has become homeless because of poor vision, which doesn’t allow for a steady job. “I would love to become employable again. I enjoy working,” said Eutsey. “I love fishing and am an avid runner. These are all things I’m unable to do now.”
Sarasota resident Aaron Wesolek lives with his parents due to not being able to work and support himself caused by poor vision. “I want to be able to spend the best quality time with my grandchildren, tie a hook on a fishing line, watch beautiful sunsets and once again enjoy the many things that I realize I used to take for granted,” said Wesolek. “I love the way that warm-hearted folks at Center For Sight are blessing people in their community with a greater quality of life by donating their services.”
Necessary partnerships to continue Mission Cataract
To ensure ongoing funding for the annual Mission Cataract program, Shoemaker formed the Center For Sight Foundation, a donor-advised fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Every dollar received is put toward the annual Mission Cataract charitable initiative to purchase medications, surgical supplies, protective postoperative glasses, and the intraocular lenses to be placed in patients’ eyes at the time of surgery.
In addition, Center For Sight has partnered with Operation Sight, a national program through the ASCRS Foundation in order to expand its reach in Southwest Florida and nationwide. The goal of Operation Sight is to build a network of volunteer organizations that provide care to Americans unable to access or afford cataract surgery. Center For Sight’s affiliate practice, Carolina Eyecare Physicians, located in Charleston, South Carolina, is the founding practice of the Operation Sight program and will also be participating to serve patients in need within the Lowcountry.
Not only do the Center For Sight surgeons and Center For Sight Foundation donors participate in providing this service, but laser technology company, LENSAR, Inc., donates the use of its advanced LENSAR laser system. ImprimisRx will provide postoperative eye drops free of charge.
To qualify for Mission Cataract, patients must complete an application and meet specific criteria to be eligible for treatment. Applicants must be United States citizens, have a confirmed diagnosis of cataracts, live at or below the poverty level set by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and be without Medicare, Medicaid, or third-party insurance coverage.