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2021 Cataract-A-Thon at UTHSC’s Hamilton Eye Institute Set for June 12

Since it was founded in 2017, the Ivan Marais Cataract-a-Thon at Hamilton Eye Institute has restored the sight of 130 individuals in the Mid-South.

Physicians at the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will donate their services to restore sight to 16 people during the fourth Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon June 12.

The all-day outreach offers free cataract surgeries to individuals, who otherwise could not afford the procedure. Since the first Cataract-A-Thon in 2017, more than 130 people have had their sight restored during the event that was held annually, until the coronavirus pandemic put it on hold in 2020.

This year, 16 individuals will receive screening, surgery, and follow-up care as part of the Cataract-a-Thon. Support for the event comes from Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, Methodist Healthcare-Solus Management Services, UTHSC Anesthesia, LifeLinc Anesthesia, Alcon, and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

The HEI Lions Club hosts an annual 5K run to help fund outreach, including the Cataract-A-Thon. The Lions Club also assists in identifying individuals from Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri in need of the cataract surgery.

Brian Fowler, MD, vice chair of Education at HEI, and Emily Taylor Graves, MD, an ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon from Duncan Eye, PLLC, developed and coordinate the event. Salar Rafieetary, MD, a senior ophthalmology resident at HEI, serves as the director for this year’s event.

Drs. Fowler and Graves received the Unsung Hero Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2020 for their efforts with the Cataract-A-thon.

The Cataract-a-Thon honors ophthalmologist and cataract surgery innovator Ivan Marais, MD, who died in 2017. Dr. Marais was a longtime ophthalmology instructor at HEI.