Remembering Why You Chose Ophthalmology

Operation Sight patient Barry Lewis explains “Dr. Patel saved more than just my eyesight. Dr. Patel and her staff saved my ability to live in this world. Not to be overly dramatic, but I was going blind.” Barry applied to the Operation Sight program after learning he had severe cataracts. Uninsured and unemployed at the time, Barry had no way of paying for the surgery. In a desperate search for help a friend of Barry’s found the Operation Sight program during a Google search and helped Barry apply.

Once approved, Barry was matched with volunteer surgeon Reena Patel, MD, at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Patel’s practice was able to schedule Barry’s surgery to coincide with the National Sight Week initiative. “It was exciting to get my office staff and surgery center staff involved in the process. We had a poster and brochures in our office, and a lot of patients were curious and asked about the Operation Sight program. They were excited to learn that we were offering this service to patients in need and some even referred patients.”

Foundation Staff: What advice would you give to surgeons who are thinking of volunteering through Operation Sight?

Dr. Reena Patel: Remember why you chose this profession. To help people.  The joy I receive from watching these patients and seeing the positive impact I have on their lives reminds me why I chose to get into medicine. There is so much that we juggle daily, and we get mired down by regulations, EMR, support staff, and a thousand other things that are not necessarily why we went into ophthalmology.  My Operation Sight patients remind me that we are so fortunate to be able to make a direct impact in someone’s life in a short amount of time. Being involved with Operation Sight won’t slow you down.  In fact, I believe it will make you love your job even more.

Dr. Patel explains, “as one individual, how can I make a difference that can impact a life and do some good?  If I can help just one more person see better, that person can be a productive citizen, can help their family, which can help my community, which can turn into a snowball effect.”

We thank Dr. Patel and our volunteer network for helping those most in need through the Operation Sight program.

The ASCRS Foundation is currently preparing for its 4th annual National Sight Week initiative, October 20-26, where the goal is to complete as many charitable cataract surgeries as possible.

For more information on how to volunteer through Operation Sight or National Sight Week, please visit or contact Evelyn Morales at the ASCRS Foundation at

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