RICHMOND (WRIC) – Having clear vision is something you might take for granted until age or eye conditions take it away.
But there's a program giving it back to some patients who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford surgery.
Thelma Worsham feels like she has a new set of eyes now that she's cataract free.
It's such a common vision problem but not everyone has the insurance coverage or bank account to pay for surgery and leaving a cataract alone can cause blindness.
Seeing the needs in the region, the Virginia Eye Institute started something called Cataract Mission 21 years ago – and it's still going strong.
Staff members volunteer their time to screen potential patients and provide surgery and after care to those who qualify.
Dr. Read McGehee has led the outreach program for two decades.
“All aspects of the care is given to the patient with no charge,” McGehee says.
“It's our way of giving back to the community, and the joy that a lot of these people have after the surgery is tremendous,” says ophthalmologist Dr. Walter Bundy.
The office has stacks of thank you notes from older patients, simply thrilled they can see and one man in his 40s who lost his vision to the point that he lost his job.
“We did his first eye,” McGehee says. “That allowed him to be employed again get insurance and be back in the work force. It made a huge difference in his life.”
And it's made a huge difference to this staff, giving people the gift of clear vision so they can enjoy life to the fullest. That's what makes the Cataract Mission Positively Richmond.
“The gift is really back to us,” Bundy says. “That smile is hard to beat on the day after surgery.”
Applications for this year's Cataract Mission will be accepted until February 14.
To see if you or a loved one qualifies, call 804.287.4905.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond