Second Annual Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon Gives Nearly 50 Patients The Gift of Sight

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For ophthalmologist Emily Taylor Graves, MD, of Duncan Eye, PLLC, the highlight of the second-annual Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) Friday and Saturday was watching the 100 volunteers who sacrificed their time to serve others and give the gift of sight.

“That was my favorite part,” she said. “Seeing them serve so effortlessly makes it worthwhile.” Dr. Graves served as co-director and lead cataract surgeon for the two-day community service outreach that provided free cataract surgery to patients who are uninsured or otherwise unable to access proper ophthalmic care.

The event had the help of about 100 volunteers from all over the community. (Phtoto by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC

Nearly 50 patients from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and surrounding areas, received cataract surgery worth more than $150,000.

Patients received screening, comprehensive eye exams, surgeries and follow-up care, with nursing and anesthesiology support provided by HEI, Methodist Healthcare-Solus Management Services, Memphis Surgery Center, Medical Anesthesia Group, East Memphis Anesthesia Services, and American Anesthesia of Tennessee. Senior HEI residents assisted in surgery.

Cataract surgeries took about 15 minutes to complete for each patient. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

This event is the vision of Brian Fowler, MD, an ophthalmic surgeon and vice chair of Clinical Operations at HEI.

Patients were identified through the HEI clinics, the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, and Church Health. Calls and inquiries have already begun in anticipation of next year’s event.

The cataract-a-thon honors ophthalmologist and cataract surgery innovator Ivan Marais, MD, who died last year. Originally from South Africa, Dr. Marais was an ophthalmology instructor at UTHSC and HEI, where he trained many residents in cataract surgery.

Note: Video by Andrew Bartolotta/cityCURRENT