Meredith Dropkin

76 People Have Vision Restored Thanks to Free Cataract Surgery by Center For Sight

Sarasota, Florida – April 12, 2012 – Center For Sight performed 76 free cataract surgeries for people who have no insurance and no means to pay on Friday, March 23 and March 30, 2012, at its state-of-the-art surgical center in Sarasota. The free surgeries were part of Mission Cataract USA, a nationwide project involving eye surgeons throughout the United States. Most patients were from Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, with a few traveling from as far away as Alabama and Georgia. The surgeries were performed by Dr. David Shoemaker, Dr. William Lahners, Dr. Joshua Kim and Dr. William Soscia, and supported by a team of Center For Sight nurse anesthetists, medical technicians, nurses and administrative staff, all of whom donated their services for the day.

Robert Hunt, 46, a self-employed house painter from Port Charlotte, had a cataract removed from his left eye, having had his right eye treated at Center For Sight as part of last year’s Mission Cataract project. “I hate any type of surgery, but after last year I was excited to do it again,” he said. “I didn’t realize how bad my eyesight was until I had to repaint an entire house because I missed big stripes. This surgery is going to help me get back to work, so these doctors are like heroes to me. I’ve got two bionic eyes now.”

People such as Mr. Hunt are the reason Center For Sight added a second day of surgeries this year, so patients didn’t have to wait a full year to have the operation performed on their second eye.

“If you can’t see, it’s very difficult to get employment,” said Dr. Joshua Kim, Glaucoma and Cataract Surgeon at Center For Sight. “By helping people regain their vision, we give them a fighting chance to get back to living full, productive lives. I’m honored to participate in Mission Cataract, especially now when the need is so great and fewer ophthalmology practices across the country are participating in the program. In fact, Center For Sight is the only participating practice in Florida.”

Dr. David Shoemaker, Founder and Director of Cataract and Lens Replacement Surgery at Center For Sight, added: “It’s a privilege to be in a position to help people who are facing completely preventable blindness. Our Mission Cataract patients are different from the patients we see the rest of the year. Most of them have an advanced condition that has gone untreated for years, and surgery is necessary not only to improve their vision but to save their sight.”

Ivan Goldstein, 57, of Sarasota said, “This will be the first time in my life I’ve been able to see well. I’m looking forward to being able to drive, and do simple things like going to the supermarket and seeing what I’m buying.”

That sentiment was echoed throughout the busy operating area, as staff wheeled patients in and out of surgery with precision and compassionate care.

Karen Julian, 50, of Port Charlotte is looking forward to getting back to work. “This is going to be a major help,” she said. “I was in telemarketing, but haven’t been able to work because I can’t see the computer screen. Maybe I’ll go back to school now and train for something else.”

To ensure ongoing funding of its charitable efforts, Center For Sight recently formed Center For Sight Foundation, a donor-advised fund of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Its mission is to provide world-class surgical care to prevent avoidable blindness in patients who cannot afford treatment. Center For Sight Foundation will support and expand the Mission Cataract project, with donations going directly to help purchase pre-operative, surgical and post-operative medications and supplies, including the artificial lenses that are implanted into patients’ damaged eyes.

To qualify, patients were required to have poor vision due to cataracts that is uncorrectable with glasses; no Medicare, Medicaid, or third-party insurance coverage; and no other means to pay for cataract surgery. Center For Sight’s nationally recognized ophthalmologic and optometric physicians, and other clinical professionals, individually contribute their services. Center For Sight donates the use of its state-of-the-art, AAAHC-accredited surgery center.

Cataract surgery is microsurgery. It uses an operating microscope and is performed inside the eye through an incision. The surgeon removes the eye’s natural crystalline lens, which has lost its transparency, causing blurred or distorted vision. Today, modern cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. With the advent of small incision cataract surgery, often stitches are not required. In most cases, the patient can use their eye soon after surgery and return home the same day.

About Center For Sight
With locations throughout Southwest Florida, Center For Sight is the nation’s leading multi-disciplinary physician group providing patients worldwide with advanced healthcare in ophthalmology, optometry, dermatology, cosmetic facial surgery and hearing services. Under the clinical direction of David W. Shoemaker, M.D., and William J. Lahners, M.D., F.A.C.S., Center For Sight has eight offices serving Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties. For more information, visit

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