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John A. Moran Eye Center Model for Charitable Care Becomes Multi-Site Day of Service

Charity Surgery Day

On Saturday, October 10, eye surgeons in Salt Lake and St. George will provide dozens of sight-restoring surgeries to low-income Utahns in need of care. The University of Utah's John A. Moran Eye Center pioneered this model of high-quality, low-cost care in 2012, and since that time the effort has grown to include The Eye Institute of Utah and the St. George Eye Center. This program is being funded in part by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Foundation's Operation Sight network.

Moran Eye Center residents and University of Utah med students created "Charity Surgery Day," as a cost-efficient way of providing care to low-income, uninsured Utahns with treatable blinding conditions. Through this model, the operating room is run on a Saturday as it would be during the week. The difference is that physicians, nurses and other staff members volunteer their time, and patients are not billed for their care. Pharmaceutical and medical companies donate supplies, and generous donors cover other costs. Since 2013, Charity Surgery Days have been held twice-yearly at Moran. Cataract surgeries are the most common, but this Saturday a Moran physician will also perform a cornea transplant.

"For a person who is already struggling financially, losing his or her vision can have a devastating effect. Often the patients who come to us through Charity Surgery Day have lost the ability to work, and are relying heavily on family members or friends," says Randall J Olson, M.D., Chair and CEO of the Moran Eye Center. "More than giving people back their sight, this program gives them back their lives. Its critical work and we are thrilled that this program is expanding to include more physicians and more clinical sites."

Partnership with ASCRS

Post surgery

Moran began partnering with the ASCRS Foundation on Charity Surgery Day in 2014, and is one of five founding members of the ASCRS Foundation's Operation Sight program, whose mission is to provide a centralized approach for organizations and volunteer surgeons wishing to end cataract blindness in the U.S. At the last Charity Surgery Day, which was in March, Moran was joined by The Eye Institute of Utah, which continues to be a leading partner.

Robert J. Cionni, MD, president of ASCRS and medical director of The Eye Institute of Utah said, "Unfortunately, there are still many people who don't have access to basic vision care in the U.S. Treating curable blindness, with the help of programs like ASCRS Operation Sight, is and always has been one of our top priorities as ophthalmologists."

Curing Blindness in Utah

Curing treatable blindness in Utah provides a positive economic benefit to the state. Vision loss can play a major role in unemployment and even homelessness, as visual impairment makes finding and keeping a job difficult. Charity Surgery Day gives visually impaired members of the community a new lease on life, often allowing them to return to work and to better care for their families.

Governor Gary Herbert has issued a declaration for October 8, proclaiming it "Utah Sight Day," in part because of the growth of charitable eye care throughout the state. October 8 is also "World Sight Day," an annual day of awareness organized by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.