Since 2012, the University of Utah has been practicing high quality, low cost eye procedures. Now The John A. Moran Eye Center is collaborating with The Eye Institute of Utah to expand the provision model. The Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Foundation’s Operation Sight network and the American Society of Cataract are financially supporting this approach.
In 2012, residents at the Moran Eye Center and med students from the University of Utah created “Charity Surgery Day,” a cost-effective way to provide care for Utah’s uninsured locals from low-income backgrounds with curable blinding illnesses.
On a Saturday twice per year, surgeons and medical staff offer their time to provide free care to Utah residents. Medical companies and Pharmaceutical provide the supplies, and generous donors cover other associated costs. This model has been running since 2013 at Moran. The most common procedure are cataract surgeries, however surgeons have conducted other procedures such as pterygia and corneal transplants.
“There are more people in Utah with treatable blindness than you would think, and for a person who is struggling financially, losing his or her vision can have a devastating effect. Often the patients who come to us through Charity Surgery Day have lost the ability to work, and are relying heavily on family members or friends,” said Randall J. Olson, M.D., Chair and CEO of the Moran Eye Center in a recent news release. “We’re committed to restoring sight to as many individuals as we possibly can, which is why we are thrilled to have the partnership of The Eye Institute of Utah and of the ASCRS Foundation.”
Moran, one of the five founding members of the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight program, began their collaboration the ASCRS foundation on Charity Surgery Day in 2014. The task is to offer an integrated method for institutions and volunteer physicians that wish to take part in the effort to end blindness associated with cataracts in the United States. Saturday’s Charity Surgery Day was the first time the event took place at various Utah sites, with The Eye Institute of Utah managing near half of the cases.
Robert J. Cionni, Medical Director of The Eye Institute of Utah and the incoming President of the ASCRS said in the news release, “Too often, we take our eyesight for granted until our vision starts to fail. Most conditions that impair our vision are preventable or treatable. However, for many people in the U.S. and around the world, the cost of surgery makes treatment unattainable. We now have the unique opportunity to join forces with the ASCRS and the Moran Eye Center to treat patients in Utah who could not otherwise afford care. Operation Sight is intended to help those in our local community, but we also hope that it creates a replicable movement across the U.S. to help eradicate treatable vision loss.”
Treating curable blindness in Utah brings an economic benefit to the state. Charity Surgery Day can help to avert vision loss often associated with unemployment and homelessness.