Charleston, SC--The first two charitable cataract surgeries, performed as part of the ASCRS Foundation’s new Operation Sight network, were conducted on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, by Kerry Solomon, MD, at Physicians Eye Surgery Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
The two Charleston patients suffered from advanced cataracts, but did not have private insurance and were ineligible for government assistance. Although largely unrecognized, the number of working poor who fall outside the traditional insurance and social safety nets is significant, said Dr. Solomon, one of 13 volunteer surgeons working through two, local surgery centers that are part of Operation Sight-Charleston (OSC).
OSC was founded three years ago to provide free cataract surgery for qualified South Carolina residents and has provided more than 90 free surgeries to date. OSC joins the Moran Eye Center (Utah), University Hospitals (Ohio) and Operation Access (California) as founding members of the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight network. The foundation’s aim is to extend the reach of local programs to form a powerful, nationwide network, in hopes of eliminating cataract blindness in the US.
“OSC has put together an impressive team. They have enlisted volunteer surgeons, staff, optometrists, anesthesiologists and administrators, and offer an excellent model that the foundation can scale up to meet the increasing need in the United States,” said Steve Lane, MD, ASCRS Foundation Domestic Programs Chairman. “The foundation can offer the administrative support needed to pre-qualify and prepare deserving patients for surgery, along with financial assistance to reduce the burden to the physician or practice that often comes with providing free care.”
The foundation’s plans involve an eventual expansion of the Operation Sight network to include individual physician volunteers who are looking to provide the occasional charitable surgery in their own community. The goal is to complete 100 surgeries across the country in the next 12 months.
“We’re excited to have our Charleston-based program join the national ASCRS Foundation Operation Sight network. This new domestic initiative is an important one. We started our own program in Charleston out of a desire to help our neighbors in need,” said Solomon. “In joining with the ASCRS Foundation, we feel like we can leverage the incredible resources of ASCRS and the vast experience of similar volunteer organizations throughout the U.S. to collectively organize a national volunteer network dedicated to helping our neighbors around the country. It’s very exciting.”
The ASCRS Foundation’s new Operation Sight network will make it easier for those who want to help end cataract blindness in the United States—by providing a single, well-managed, charitable organization that is focused largely on this one, notable goal.
“In addition to the established organizations and volunteer ASCRS members, we’ll be working hard involve all levels of industry in the Operation Sight program,” said ASCRS Foundation Corporate Relations Chair Jim Mazzo. “Industry has been remarkably generous when it comes to supporting charitable care both internationally and here at home. They do it quietly and without much recognition simply because it’s the right thing to do. It’s my belief that industry can offer an unmatched level of leadership and expertise that will be key to growing the Operation Sight program in the United States.”
The ASCRS Foundation, a 501-C-3 organization founded in 2003, is dedicated to improving the American public’s understanding of ophthalmology, sponsoring independent research designed to advance the science and practice of ophthalmology, and providing humanitarian eye care to the World’s underserved. The foundation supports the Eye Surgery Education Council, a patient education website and administers a competitive application process for the award of 23 research/travel grant annually. The foundation operates the Robert Sinskey Eye Institute – a permanent, full-service medical/surgical facility in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where more than 13,000 patients will be treated in 2012. The foundation also works in partnership with Project Vision to maintain three cataract surgery training centers in China.