Stark County, Ohio: For more than a year, cataracts affected the vision and quality of life of Massillon resident Kathryn Evans, who could not afford restorative surgery. But, thanks to Mission Cataract USA and its local team that includes Sanjeev Dewan, M.D., Stark County Anesthesia and Mercy Medical Center, Evans is once again able to see.
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 last month at no cost for Evans and three other Ohio residents from Columbus, Dayton and Medina.
Just one week after cataract surgery, Evans – a diabetic who had lost her ability to drive because of the cataracts – is excited to regain her independence. “[The surgery] has really helped,” she says. “Not only can I see better, but I feel better about myself. I feel wonderful.”
She adds that the Mission Cataract team provided excellent care. “They definitely know their stuff and were on top of everything,” says Evans.
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 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 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.
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