Cataract surgery can make the difference between achieving lifelong dreams—or having to live life on the sidelines.
Take, for instance, Johnson Powell, of Amarillo, Texas. He wants to earn his CDL license to drive trucks. However, a cataract in his left eye required him to stop his plans temporarily. “It’s like I have five pieces of white paper over my lens,” Powell says.
Or, consider Jonathan Suarez of Orlando. At only 20 years, Suarez developed cataracts due to his diabetes. Suarez wants to learn to drive so he doesn’t have to depend on his dad for rides, but he required surgery first.
Both Powell and Suarez would not be able to have cataract surgery without the help of the Mission Cataract program at Center for Sight in Sarasota.
Center for Sight is one of only 21 practices in the U.S. able to offer their Mission Cataract program to uninsured patients. This year was Center For Sight’s 25th year offering Mission Cataract. Although many patients come from the Sarasota area, some, like Powell, came as far away as Texas.
The surgeries for this year’s Mission Cataract took place on July 12 and 19 at Center For Sight’s state-of-the-art AAAHC-accredited surgery facility in Sarasota. Under the direction of David W. Shoemaker, M.D., Center for Sight’s nationally acclaimed ophthalmologic surgeons, Williams J. Lahners, M.D., Joshua W. Kim, M.D., and William L. Soscia, M.D. – along with a team of ophthalmic technicians, nurse anesthetists, medical technicians, nurses, and administrative staff – donated their time and experience to Mission Cataract.
Changing Lives, Restoring Vision
“Mission Cataract continues to transform lives. We are honored to once again help patients through Mission Cataract 2017,” said Dr. David Shoemaker, Founder and Director of Cataract and Lens Replacement Surgery at Center For Sight. “Restoring the gift of sight to our Mission Cataract patients gives them the opportunity to lead meaningful and productive lives.”
To qualify for Mission Cataract 2017, patients had to have poor vision due to cataracts that was uncorrectable with glasses; have no Medicare, Medicaid, or third-party insurance coverage; and have no other means to pay for cataract surgery. “Every year for more than 20 years, our surgeons and staff look forward to the chance to restore vision for our Mission Cataract patients,” Dr. Shoemaker said. “We consider it an honor to put our skills and experience to work for the uninsured, and we look forward to offering this important service for many years to come.”
“I Feel So Thankful”
Patients who participated in this year’s Mission Cataract praised the staff for their friendliness and generosity, and they looked hopefully ahead at how restored vision could change their lives.
“I look forward to driving trucks and going to truck driving school,” Powell said.
Annette Rohler of Port Charlotte, a hairdresser, said she wanted to return to a normal full work schedule. Since cataracts affected her life late last year (including three cataracts in one eye), she couldn’t take on new color clients. Her remaining work doubled in the time it took to complete it. Her restored eyesight after cataract surgery would do wonders for her color perception and depth perception, doctors told her. “For people like me that can’t afford insurance, this is something really wonderful, isn’t? I just feel so thankful for something like this to help people,” Rohler said.
Cataract surgery doesn’t just restore eyesight. It also restores independence, said Walter Echevarry of Kissimmee. “I haven’t been able to drive for almost four months. I feel like I have to depend on someone to drive, and I get frustrated,” he said. “I look forward to reading again and seeing my four grandchildren’s’ faces closely. The people who work here are awesome. The doctors are doing this work with all their heart,” Echevarry said.
About Center For Sight
With seven locations in Southwest Florida, Center For Sight is one of the nation’s leading multi-disciplinary physician groups, providing patients worldwide with advanced medical and surgeon vision care. Under the clinical direction of David W. Shoemaker, M.D., and William J. Lahners, M.D., F.A.C.S., Center For Sight serves Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte Counties. For more information, visit CenterForSight.net. To learn more about the Center For Sight Foundation, which supports Mission Cataract, visit Cfsfoundation.org.