New Philadelphia, Ohio: For more than a year, cataracts affected the vision and quality of life of New Philadelphia resident Steven “Bobby” Stocker, a self-employed musician who could not afford restorative surgery. “I could see shapes, but no details,” says Stocker, “I probably couldn’t recognize my own mother from three feet away.” Frustrated and frightened that he would have to stop giving music lessons, his livelihood, the family of one of Stocker’s drum students suggested Mission Cataract. Stocker researched the non-profit organization and made an appointment with Ohio Eye Alliance for consultation. Thanks to Mission Cataract USA and its local team that includes Sanjeev Dewan, M.D., Stark County Anesthesia and Mercy Medical Center, Stocker is once again able to see after his cataract procedure on May 19.
Part of Mission Cataract since 1996, Dewan, an ophthalmologist with Canton’s Ohio Eye Alliance, partners each May with Mercy Medical Center and Stark County Anesthesia to remove cataracts for qualified patients who have no means to pay for surgery. Donating time, equipment, resources and medication, the team performed cataract surgery at no cost for Stocker and nine other Ohio residents from New Philadelphia, Toledo, Dayton and beyond.
Stocker could tell an immediate improvement after the procedure. “The colors I can see now are amazing – everything is so bright and sharp now. . . this is amazing, so amazing,” says Stocker, “It (Mission Cataract USA) was a real Godsend to me – there is no way I could have gotten this surgery done on my own, I just didn’t have the means.”
He adds that the Mission Cataract team provided excellent care. “The staff at Mercy showed empathy and caring, everyone made me feel so comfortable,” says Stocker, “Dr. Dewan is all about helping the patient, it is not everyday that someone does things for others like he did – I am so appreciative of what Dr. Dewan and the rest of the team has done for me.”
In order for Mission Cataract to be a success, cooperation must exist between the physician, the hospital, the anesthesiologist and the manufacturer of the lens.
“With Mercy’s long-standing mission of compassionate care for all, regardless of the ability to pay, Mission Cataract has been a perfect fit,” says Dewan. “Doing this work puts things in perspective for me. It’s highly rewarding, professionally and personally."
Cataracts are Top Cause of Blindness Worldwide
Like looking at the world through frosted glass, individuals with cataracts struggle to read, drive (especially at night) and even clearly see the expression on a friend’s face. A clouding of the eye’s natural lens that most often occurs through aging, cataracts are usually not painful but may significantly affect quality of life.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80, making the procedure one of the most common – as well as safest and most effective – operations in America. Nine out of 10 people who undergo surgery for cataracts have improved vision afterward.
In the past, Dewan traveled to India on medical mission trips to help those with cataracts. However, after collaborating with Mission Cataract, he learned there was a real need for care locally, as well.
"It was an eye opener for me," Dewan says. "I didn’t realize so many in my own community had cataracts but were without means to pay for surgery. These patients are essentially living with blindness, even though cataracts – the number one cause of blindness in the world – are so treatable."
About Mission Cataract USA
A non-profit organization established in 1991, Mission Cataract USA offers free cataract surgery for people of all ages who are without Medicare, Medicaid, third-party insurance or any other means to pay. Mission Cataract currently has 20 providers in 14 states. For more information, visit MissionCataractUSA.org.
About Mercy Medical Center
Mercy Medical Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 620 members on its Medical Staff and employs 2,500 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Carrollton, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community. For more information, see cantonmercy.org.
# # #