U Medical Students Help Moran Eye Center Provide Free Eye Surgeries for Uninsured Utahns

By Mackenzie McDermott

The John A. Moran Eye Center—part of the University of Utah healthcare system—treated uninsured, low-income Utahns with free eye surgeries on Saturday, April 8 as part of Operation Sight Day. The institute performed 23 surgeries between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Moran residents and medical students from the U first hosted Operation Sight Day in 2012. Altogether, 158 Utahns have been helped on the biannual day of charity surgeries. The volunteers of the Moran Eye Center provide cataract surgeries and corneal transplants.

Kevin Draper, one of the surgery recipients, was suffering from cataracts and nerve damage in both eyes.

“I am currently not working, I don’t have insurance,” said Draper. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise.”

Draper had been having sight problems for over a year. After he heals from the surgery, Draper can drive and read again.

“Now I’ll be able to see clearly and start enjoying my later years in life a lot better,” said Draper.

The Moran Eye Center performed operations on referred patients from clinics around the state that can’t provide free care for people in need.

[/media-credit] A patient has their eye operated on during Operation Sight Day at the John A. Moran Eye Center on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to people who really have not had access to this kind of care,” said Michael Yei, a spokesperson for the Moran Eye Center.

Draper said when he found out that he was chosen for the operation, he was both excited and nervous.

“When they come in I joke with them,” said Sander Barrera, a five-year employee of the Moran Center and volunteer for Operation Sight Day. “I make them feel like, ‘Hey, we are going to take care of you.’ Even though it’s scary operating on your eye because you know you can see everything, they’re going to be in good hands.”

The volunteer staff was able to calm patients anxiously waiting to see the world again.

“Today everything went wonderfully well,” said Draper. “All the doctors, nurses, technicians, clerks, everybody has been so wonderful.”

Each surgery requires approximately five volunteers. On Saturday, there were around 45 volunteers.

Donors such as Bank of American Fork cover some of the costs, and other Utah eye centers like The Eye Institute of Utah and St. George Eye Center participate in the event. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Foundation’s Operation Sight Network sponsored Operation Sight Day.

The Moran Eye Center’s mission is to “Eliminate curable blindness worldwide by sustainably and permanently expanding access to good eye care.”

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