September 2014

 

NEWS & OPINION

 

ASCRS Foundation launches national charity cataract surgery initiative


by Lauren Lipuma EyeWorld Staff Writer

 
 

Im very excited and very enthusiastic about this program. My goal would be to wipe out cataract blindness in the United States by the year 2020 and I think that is a very attainable goal.

Stephen S. Lane, MD

 

A patient is prepped for surgery by volunteer anesthesiologist Sean Zyblewski, MD.

Dr. Solomon performs cataract surgery on a patient through the ASCRS Foundations Operation Sight Network.

Source (all): Cindi Solomon

In an ongoing effort to end cataract blindness in the United States, the ASCRS Foundation has brought together several local organizations that provide charitable cataract surgery to patients in need, combining them into one comprehensive nationwide network with other individual eyecare centers and surgeons called the Operation Sight Network.

The new network will enable physicians and eyecare professionals to perform charitable cataract surgeries in their own communities with administrative and financial support from the ASCRS Foundation and ophthalmic industry leaders, enhancing their efforts to end preventable cataract blindness in the United States. Stephen S. Lane, MD, ASCRS Foundation Domestic Committee chair, initiated the program after observing the work done by the Foundation on the international front. Dr. Lane recognized the need for humanitarian eyecare here in the U.S. as well as abroad. There are many patients who dont have access to medical care and dont have access to the first-class cataract surgery that most of the members of ASCRS practice on a regular basis, he said. I thought it would be a good opportunity to serve our indigent population and also provide a great opportunity for the engagement of ASCRS, since we are the leading cataract surgical society in the world.

How it works

The ASCRS Foundation will provide the administrative and financial support needed to streamline the process of prequalifying and preparing deserving patients for surgery, relieving much of the burden from volunteer physicians, their staffs, and participating surgery centers. With this infrastructure in place, new physicians or existing organizations will be able to plug in to the network easily while maintaining their autonomy, said Dr. Lane. Operation Sight Charleston, one of the founding surgery centers, allowed the ASCRS Foundation to adopt its name for the new network. The other founding member institutions are Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City, University Hospitals of Cleveland, and Operation Access in San Francisco.

Kerry Solomon, MD, of Operation Sight Charleston, performed the first 2 cataract surgeries as part of the Operation Sight Network on July 2 at Physicians Eye Surgery Center in Charleston. Both surgeries were successful, and the patients are now seeing clearly. Creating a national network of providers will raise awareness of the humanitarian work already being done by physicians and industry in the field of ophthalmology, said Dr. Lane. This is a way in which we can get national recognition for not only what we do with Operation Sight but the good things that physicians do on a daily basis that may be underappreciated and unrecognized, he said. The ASCRS Foundation aims to have 10 local surgery sites up and running and to perform at least 100 charitable surgeries by the end of 2014. If that is successful, my goal would be to expand to 50 centers across the U.S. by the end of 2015, said Dr. Lane. Ideally these centers would be made up of physicians and surgeons who are ASCRS members and who desire to participate in these kinds of efforts.

Industry support

The ASCRS Foundation is also working to involve all levels of industry in the new program. Industry has been remarkably generous when it comes to supporting charitable care both internationally and here at home, said Jim Mazzo, chair of the ASCRS Foundation Corporate Relations Committee, in a press release from ASCRS. They do it quietly and without much recognition simply because its the right thing to do. Its 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. Ophthalmic industry leaders have already made a significant commitment to the Operation Sight Network. Participating companies Abbott Medical Optics (AMO, Santa Ana, Calif.), Carl Zeiss Meditec (Jena, Germany), Alcon (Fort Worth, Texas), and MicroSurgical Technology (MST, Redmond, Wash.) will supply the networks volunteer physicians with the key technology and training needed to provide free, high-quality eyecare. The companies will donate IOLs, hold wet labs for training, and fundraise for the ASCRS Foundations programs. Providing this free access to great technology with great physicians across the United States is really the goal, Mr. Mazzo said in an interview with EyeWorld. In addition, the Corporate Relations Committee aims to raise $500,000 in support of the Foundations programs by the end of the year, he said. The Operation Sight Network is a win for everyone involved, said Dr. Lanefor patients, physicians, industry, and the Foundation. Im very excited and very enthusiastic about this program, he said. We talk about wiping out different diseases and different problems across the world, and while this is very laudable, it is almost impossible to achieve. My goal would be to wipe out cataract blindness in the United States by the year 2020and I think that is a very attainable goal.

Editors note: Mr. Mazzo is chairman and CEO of AcuFocus (Irvine, Calif.), executive chair of Neurotech Pharmaceuticals (Cumberland, R.I.), and operating partner of Versant Ventures (Menlo Park, Calif.). Dr. Lane has no financial interests related to his comments.

Contact information

Lane: sslane@AssociatedEyeCare.com
Mazzo: jmazzo@versantventures.com

ASCRS Foundation launches national charity cataract surgery initiative ASCRS Foundation launches national charity cataract surgery initiative
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