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Eye Surgeries Worth Estimated $72,000 Provided at No Cost During 2024 Cataract-A-Thon

The 2024 Cataract-A-Thon at Hamilton Eye Institute Saturday restored the sight to 24 individuals in need at no cost. This is the seventh year for the event.

Physicians at the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center donated their services to restore sight to 24 individuals during the seventh-annual Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon Saturday, June 8. Their services are estimated to be worth $72,000.

The all-day outreach, organized and led by HEI residents, offers free cataract surgeries to individuals who otherwise could not afford the procedure. Since the first Cataract-A-Thon in 2017, more than 150 individuals have had their sight restored during the event.

“The Cataract-A-Thon is my favorite time of the year and has been the highlight of my training and time in Memphis,” said Brooks D. Walker, MD, a fourth-year resident at HEI, leader of this year’s event, and HEI Lions Club president. “There is nothing more gratifying than working together with a group of enthusiastic people to help others.”

Physicians and residents at the Hamilton Eye Institute, along with many volunteers, welcome the opportunity every year to give back to the community.

Support for the event comes from the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, Church Health, Alcon, Dutch Ophthalmic, Rayner, and the World Cataract Foundation.

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 the region in need of the cataract surgery. Those receiving the surgery were examined at an earlier date before being scheduled for the Cataract-A-Thon.

Brian Fowler, MD, vice chair of education and residency program director in the Department of Ophthalmology, and Emily Taylor Graves, MD, FACS, a cataract and refractive surgeon at Rayner Eye Clinic, developed and help coordinate the event.

The event honors the late ophthalmologist and cataract surgery innovator Ivan Marais, MD, who was an ophthalmology instructor at UT Health Science Center and HEI, where he trained many residents in cataract surgery.