Operation Sight Day

Thousands of people in the United States suffering from unnecessary blindness—and many of them live right here in Utah. Since 2012 the University of Utah Health’s John A. Moran Eye Center has conducted semi-annual Saturday surgery days to restore sight to low-income, uninsured individuals. To date, almost 150 patients have received sight-restoring surgery through this program.

Moran’s model for providing care has been adopted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Foundation for their Operation Sight network. Through this low-cost model, physicians, nurses and technicians volunteer their time to provide free surgeries to patients in need. The operating room is staffed and run as it would be on any other day, except patients are not billed for their care.

Many individuals with poor vision are unable to find or keep employment, and some have to rely on family members for care and transportation. Restoring their sight has a positive impact not only on their lives, but on their families’ lives as well.

 Watch a video about this program. 

People We Serve

Each of the patients who received care had advanced cataracts in one or both eyes. Some of the patients had lost their jobs due to their poor eyesight, which resulted in the loss of insurance and necessary funds for the surgery.

This is exactly what happened to cement truck driver, Kevin Scow of Salt Lake City. He lost his commercial driver’s license (CDL) last May because of a cataract in his right eye. “I was completely blind in my right eye, which resulted in the loss of my job,” said Scow.

Without a job and insurance, Scow didn’t have the funds to pay for cataract surgery. He was referred to the Moran Eye Center by the Fourth Street Clinic thinking he would be required to pay and not knowing how he would do so. “It was unexpected to find out I was approved for a free surgery, and I’m very grateful and appreciative for this service and for everyone who volunteered their time to help with my surgery,” he. “It blows my mind that I can walk out of here today with my sight back.” Scow is now looking forward to getting his CDL and returning to his career as a cement truck driver.

Robert Mulvey “I’m very thankful to the doctors and nurses for volunteering their time to help me. I wouldn’t have been able to get this surgery otherwise,” said Robert Mulvey shortly before receiving cataract surgery on both eyes.

Six years ago, Mulvey started noticing blurriness in his vision but didn’t realize how bad it was until he failed the eye exam required for a commercial driver’s license. He had been working towards becoming a school bus driver, but without the correct license, he was unable to continue driving. Without a steady job and without insurance, Mulvey wasn’t able to visit a doctor to receive the intervention he needed to correct his vision. Referred by the Fourth Street Clinic, Mulvey was approved for free cataract surgery for both of his eyes.

He’s now looking forward to getting back to work and being able to see clearly. As he says, “I just want to walk down the street without tripping and read the menu at a fast food restaurant”⎯ it’s the simple things in life he’s most looking forward to.