Over twenty years ago, Center For Sight Founder and Director of Cataract and Lens Replacement Surgery, David W. Shoemaker, M.D., traveled to Central America to teach cataract surgery techniques to resident doctors. The charitable endeavor provided local doctors with advanced educational opportunities and offered under-served communities access to much needed healthcare; in this case, free cataract surgery.
On his trip back to the States, Shoemaker began contemplating how to bring this initiative closer to home. The statistics were alarming – by age 75, almost half of all Americans suffer from cataracts. Additionally, in Southwest Florida alone, tens of thousands of adults were living below the poverty line, which meant many of them may not be receiving adequate healthcare.
After researching opportunities to provide this service within the United States, Shoemaker came across Mission Cataract USA, an organization based out of California with the same mission – to provide sight-saving cataract surgery to people in need. He knew this was a perfect fit for Center For Sight and quickly established the practice as a Mission Cataract partner. The rest is history: For over two decades, Center For Sight has performed hundreds of free cataract surgeries through Mission Cataract.
When asked about his involvement and personal commitment to the cause, Shoemaker shares, “We’re proud to participate in Mission Cataract every year to provide the necessary care and treatment for those who would otherwise go through each day struggling to see. It’s very gratifying to know how vision restoration becomes such a life-changing experience that can open new doors of opportunity for the people of our community.”
To ensure ongoing funding, Shoemaker formed the Center For Sight Foundation in 2012, a donor-advised fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. One hundred percent of every dollar donated to the Center For Sight Foundation goes directly to purchasing pre- and post-operative medications, surgical supplies, protective post-operative glasses, and the artificial lenses that are implanted into patients’ eyes at the time of surgery. With the support of donors near and far, Center For Sight will continue to provide sight-saving cataract surgery through Mission Cataract for years to come.
David W. Shoemaker, M.D., along with ophthalmologic surgeons William J. Lahners, M.D., Joshua W. Kim, M.D., and William L. Soscia, M.D., perform the free surgeries. The Center For Sight surgeons and their team of optometric physicians, nurse anesthetists, medical technicians and administrative staff donate their time and expertise to the cause.
Center For Sight is now accepting applications for free cataract surgeries through the Mission Cataract program. To qualify for treatment through Mission Cataract, potential patients:
- Must be a U.S. Citizen or resident alien (green card)
- Cannot have insurance or be enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid
- Must be living at or below the poverty guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Potential Mission Cataract patients are encouraged to download an application at www.CFSfoundation.org, or call 941-480-2143 for application information. The submission deadline is April 14, 2017. Surgery dates for Mission Cataract 2017 are scheduled for July 12 and July 19 at Center For Sight’s state-of-the-art AAAHC-accredited surgery center in Sarasota.