Canton, Ohio: A welder with more than 25 years of experience, Massillon resident, Douglas Brown, was starting to suffer from headaches, blurred vision and a lack of concentration. His frustration mounted as his vision worsened and he could no longer weld. Brown found out he had a fast growing cataract that affects younger adults. Unable to work, Brown had no medical insurance to cover a cataract surgery. His fiancée, Holly, began researching online and found the non-profit organization, Mission Cataract USA, 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, Brown is once again able to see clearly after his cataract procedure on May 17.
Part of Mission Cataract since 1996, Dewan, an ophthalmologist with 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 Nader and four other Ohio residents from Massillon, New Philadelphia, Marion and Proctorville.
Brown could tell an immediate improvement in his vision after the cataract surgery. “The surgery was such a positive experience,” commented Brown, “Now I can see well enough to help my kids with their homework.” With 20/20 vision, Brown has had all medical restrictions lifted and has thankfully been able to start back to work with a career he loves. “It is hard to describe how grateful I am to Dr. Dewan and Mission Cataract as I had no other way to afford this surgery,” explained Brown, “I am just eternally grateful – they have given me more than I will ever be able to give back to them.”
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. I enjoy the opportunity to help others to see once again the wonderful colors of life."
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 23 providers in 15 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 Carroll County, 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.
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