Nominations accepted for free eye surgery

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Virginia Eye Consultants is accepting nominations for its fifth Looking Forward, Giving Back event.

This annual tradition provides charitable eye procedures to members of the Hampton Roads community who are uninsured, under-insured or financially unable to pay for their procedure. The tradition began with Virginia Eye Consultants’ 50th anniversary.

“We called it 50 for 50. We did 50 free eye surgeries for our 50th year,” said Karen Spencer, chief executive officer of Virginia Eye Consultants, which has an office in Suffolk. “It’s just a way of giving back to the community. It is such a rewarding event for the staff and surgeons, and we decided to carry it forward. We had to change the name.”


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They do at least 50 or more procedures over a couple of days, and they also do a fair amount of charitable surgeries during the rest of the year.

During the past five years, they have helped over 200 patients with this program.

Those who get nominated are not only in financial need but also in need of the surgery to let them live a normal life.

“Typically, the patient is without insurance or the ability to pay and in need of medically necessary surgery,” Spencer said. “The majority of our procedures for the program are cataracts, and we are trying to help get the patient to return to work or daily living activities.”

There are multiple procedures that the office can do to improve the quality of life for their patients. These procedures include cataract surgery, LASIK surgery, corneal transplants, glaucoma surgery or other treatments for trauma.

“Glaucoma is a silent killer of sight, and a lot of times patients don’t know until symptoms are impactful on their vision,” Spencer said. “We are always trying to raise awareness, but with this program, we can do certain procedures to help slow progression and mitigate the number of drop medications used every day.”

Patients benefit from the procedure, and the staff at Virginia Eye Consultants enjoy the chance to help patients in the Hampton Roads area.

“Speaking on behalf of staff and surgeons, the participation in the program is something that allows everyone on the team, whether it’s the surgeon or front desk, there is so much joy,” Spencer said. “I think it gives them satisfaction to give back. This is the one thing a year everyone can participate in.”

The staff enjoys the chance to help these patients regain vision or help ease their daily frustrations.

“Someone that can’t perform daily living functions — going out into public, the ability to drive and work — is devastating to them,” Spencer said. “Their diseases take those things away from them. We are giving the gift of vision, and it is the most rewarding thing. Anyone on our team would say that.”

Those wishing to nominate or ask questions can reach Tami Burke at 390-4202. More information can be found at