ASCRS Foundation 2020 July Newsletter | ASCRS
Foundation News

ASCRS Foundation 2020 July Newsletter


The ASCRS Foundation is committed to its domestic and international philanthropic mission. We are excited to share updates on how the ophthalmic community's continued support has enabled us to work through these unprecedented times, to educate physicians and serve patients in need.


The ASCRS Foundation is proud to recognize Lowell A. Gess, MD as the 2020 Chang Humanitarian Award Winner. His career spans so many years and covers such a wide breadth of the world, it is clear why many describe him as the heart for humanity. Help us celebrate Dr. Gess's 99th birthday this month! Click here to send us a message and we will include it in his virtual birthday card! Messages should be received by July 12th.


Since 2018, Aerie Pharmaceuticals has supported the ASCRS Foundation through a $30,000 matching grant initiative. Our members rose to the challenge and together, you unlocked the match! Our hearts are full! We are overwhelmed by your generosity by helping to raise over $70,055.37!

This match comes at a crucial time. Over 4,600 charitable surgeries have been provided to patients in need in their own communities through our Operation Sight program. We continue to screen patients and anticipate the number for those who will qualify to dramatically increase as the unemployment rate rises across the country. For many, surgery provides not only improved vision, but the key to regaining employment and financial stability for their families. With your help, hundreds of patients will regain the gift of sight in 2020. Your gifts will have an ever-lasting impact on their future!


Internationally, the ASCRS Foundation fights cataract blindness with a focus on education to address the shortage of eye surgeons, creating world-class medical centers, such as the Sinskey Eye Institute, and raising the local standards for patient care and physician training. Barbara C. Erny, MD, the Foundation’s Medical Liaison for International Programs has had an incredible impact in unifying the efforts of the Foundation with partner organizations, to widen our international reach. We interviewed Dr. Erny to see how COVID-19 is impacting humanitarian eyecare; please find an excerpt of her interview below:

The Foundation has 6 Residency Training locations in Ethiopia, what precautions are the ophthalmologists taking medically?

I connected with Liya Solomon, MD, at Gondar University, to find out how the resident training location is doing. Dr. Solomon reported that the ophthalmologists are wearing N95 masks and goggles and have hung cardboard shields on the slit lamps. They are doing emergency surgery and some elective cases; however, the junior residents have been relegated to the wet labs. Dr. Solomon added that most of the resident teaching is now online with an increased number of seminars, and some senior residents have changed their research projects to retrospective studies. At the hospital compound, there is a COVID-19 treatment center building, which now leads directly to the eye department building, to avoid confusion for patients, and that is guarded by federal police. The senior staff can minimize their exposure, living inside the compound of the hospital, and the patients are required to wear facemasks in the clinic.

Dr. Erny is a key staff member of the ASCRS Foundation team and her firm commitment to the international initiatives has been even more appreciated during the current global pandemic.

To read the entire interview, including updates on the ICO Board Review Course, medical and social precautions taken against COVID-19 in Ethiopia, click here.


Operation Sight is grateful for the many volunteers who have jumped back in to accept patients in need. Namely, Reena N. Patel, MD at Wichita Vision Institute, PA, has stepped up to restore sight to Operation Sight patients in need. We were able to connect with Dr. Patel about her experiences thus far with the pandemic, and why she was so able to resume charitable cataract surgeries so soon. Please find an excerpt of Dr. Patel’s interview below:

What advice do you have for practices that are beginning to re-open and are thinking about participating in Operation Sight?

Dr. Patel: Get to it! We treat Operation Sight patients exactly like we do the rest of our patient family. Again, someone’s eyesight isn’t going to wait until COVID-19 is over. We are learning that COVID-19 is not going to be over for some time so no time like the present to get started. The reward that you get from helping someone truly in need helps make you remember why you went into ophthalmology in the first place

To read the entire interview on resuming charitable cataract surgeries amidst the pandemic, please click here.

To learn more about how to volunteer with Operation Sight, please click here.

For all Operation Sight- related inquiries, please contact Jaya Minhas, Program Manager at

Operation Sight continues to screen patients, if you know of a patient in need, please direct them to our patient inquiry form.

The ASCRS Foundation is deeply appreciative of its strong and generous community. Your continued support to eradicate cataract blindness, especially with the heightened need, is vital to the success of our domestic and international programs.

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