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Moran Physicians Give the Gift of Sight this Holiday

What's it like to come out of blindness, seeing your grandchild's smile for the first time?

Share the moment with Mary Reid, one of 19 uninsured Utahns in need who received the gift of sight during the John A. Moran Eye Center's Dec. 2 Operation Sight Day.

Following the death of her husband and the loss of her sight to cataracts shortly afteward, Reid had been struggling to continue on as the primary caretaker in her family. Even after losing her vision, she helped out with her 7-month-old grandchild, Taia. But Reid couldn't see the child's smile until the day of her surgery at Moran, captured in a video with her surgeon, Jeff Pettey, MD.

"There's nothing better than seeing the look on a patient's face after they are able to take off their bandage," said Pettey, Moran's Director of Resident Education and one of the founders of Operation Sight Day. "There's nothing I think I've ever done or could do that could give me that sort of reward."

Held twice each year, Operation Sight Day is part of local and outreach efforts by Moran's Global Outreach Division. Eligible patients are screened and diagnosed through Moran's monthly outreach work at the Fourth Street and Maliheh Clinics, the Salt Lake County Youth Detention Center, the Glendale Community Center in Salt Lake, and the People's Clinic in Park City.

The Eye Institute of Utah in Salt Lake City, the St. George Eye Center, and the Tanner Clinic in Davis County restored vision to an additional 28 patients as part of Operation Sight. Including Dec. 2 surgery patients, Moran has restored sight to over 200 Utahns through the effort.

The event wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of Bank of American Fork, which sponsored both of Moran's 2017 Operation Sight Day events.

All of December's patients had cataracts, or a clouding of the eye's natural lens that is normally transparent. Over time, cataracts may grow larger making it difficult to see. The condition plays a major role in unemployment and even homelessness, since a visual impairment makes it difficult to find or keep a job. Cataract surgery replaces the natural lens with a clear, artificial lens to restore sight.

"Good vision plays a basic role in health and quality of life, and there are so many people who fall outside of the system for a variety of reasons," said Pettey. "We have the collective will and ability to provide state-of-the-art care to people in our community who cannot afford it. At Moran, we believe that no one in our community should be living with curable vision loss."

Moran's model has been adopted nationally by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Foundation's Operation Sight network.