As a surgical sale professional for 25-years with Iolab, Chiron Vision, and Bausch + Lomb, I was fortunate to have witnessed unprecedented clinical advances in cataract surgery that have made a tremendous difference in the lives of men and women suffering from cataracts. Unfortunately, these advances are largely out of reach to most of the world’s population.
On a recent medical mission trip to Haiti, I was shocked to see countless men and women effectively blind from cataracts. Many of these patients were being led by their grandchildren. While it was touching to see such intergenerational care, the scope and scale of untreated cataracts in Haiti is placing an enormous burden on those who suffer from the condition and on the families who support them. I realized that I have the ability to change that. I have the ability to make a dramatic positive life change for hundreds to thousands.
This is particularly poignant for me. Over the past ten years, my life has seen dramatic changes. First, I achieved remission from a blood cancer, but then sadly lost my wife to breast cancer. Becoming a single parent to four children has been life-altering and I now realize the importance of making the most of each and every day. After much soul searching, I believe the time has come for me to combine my knowledge of the ophthalmology field with my deep-seated desire to help those less fortunate than me.
To that end, I am launching Global Cataract Relief Foundation to provide state-of-the-art cataract surgery to those who would otherwise have no access to it.
Initially, I am focusing on Haiti, Central and South America, but intend to expand the effort world-wide as we grow the organization’s mission. Although there are other organizations providing cataract care, they are too few and typically rely on outdated surgical techniques to treat patients. I saw this first hand in Haiti, where phaco-trained volunteer surgeons had to carry out manual extracap procedures—sometimes for the first time in their careers— for lack of modern equipment. The need for such equipment in the developing world is absolutely critical, especially as fewer and fewer surgeons are being trained in manual procedures. We need to treat these patients sooner, before their cataracts reach such an advanced stage.
While the cost of cataract surgery in the states runs in the thousands, we are able to provide this care for an estimated $50.00 per patient in Haiti. It is my goal to have 90 cents of every dollar go directly towards surgery, and the medical supplies that will be needed, such as implants and equipment.
Results of future missions will be posted and shared with you on our web site so you may see exactly how your donations were utilized.
Although millions of dollars have been promised to Haiti, often those dollars do not actually make it to the country. It is my personal promise that the money raised will be directly and immediately used to provide cataract surgery. The next planned trip is scheduled for March 2017, and it is my intention to generate the funds and supplies needed so we do not have to turn away any potential cataract patients. Thank you for caring.