Dr. Jeffrey Levenson’s journey to humanitarian eye care started with a problem all too common: at the age of 51, he began to lose his eyesight to cataracts. As an ophthalmologist he had been on the other side of this countless times with his patients but dealing with it himself and experiencing the incredible joy of having his sight restored changed something for him. “The elation of the first few days of clear sight rapidly gave way, though, to the realization that there are hundreds of people in my community, and millions around the world, for whom the modern miracle of cataract surgery is inaccessible,” Dr. Levenson explains.
Within weeks of his own surgery, he began taking steps to set up his own charitable cataract surgery program at his practice dubbing it the Gift of Sight program. He began first working with a local Northeast Florida charity, Vision is Priceless, who helped with the screening process while other organizations like the Lions Club gave additional funding and he performed the surgery free of cost. Still with the costs of the surgery center and anesthesiology, there were remained gaps in funding. That was where the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight program stepped in. With that final piece completed, Dr. Levenson says “We’ve now got a sustainable program that has effectively eliminated needless blindness from cataracts in a city of 1 million people, supported by the goodwill of individuals and organizations who recognize our collective calling to give sight to the blind.”
Dr. Levenson and his staff have found deep meaning in every one of their charitable cases. It’s a reminder of their calling in medicine and as human beings. “Among our usual patients, we spend our days bringing sight to the blurry. Our patients remind us of the wonderful privilege we have of bringing sight to the blind,” Dr. Levenson adds. His own brush with cataracts has now helped hundreds of patients in need in his community, but it also has given shape to the inspiration the fuels his practice every day.
For more information on how to volunteer through Operation Sight or National Sight Week, please visit www.ascrsfoundation.org/nationalsightweek or contact Evelyn Morales at the ASCRS Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.