In celebration of our 6th National Sight Week, the ASCRS Foundation interviewed three of our champion volunteers about their commitment to give back within their local communities. Our first of the series spotlights Operation Sight volunteer and ASCRS member, Aldo Espinoza, MD at Milan Eye Center. Dr. Espinoza is a compassionate addition to our growing volunteer network. Best described as "kind, polite, and [comforting]" by an Operation Sight patient, Dr. Espinoza and the team at Milan Eye Center are dedicated to a high standard of patient care and charitable work!
What inspired you to first get involved with Operation Sight as a volunteer surgeon?
Dr. Espinoza: I have always felt a calling to help those in need which is why I became a surgeon, in order to have a skill that can be taken abroad and applied in rural settings to provide tangible improvement in the lives of others. I had planned to do overseas mission work after completing residency but when COVID-19 hit those plans were derailed. One day while reading through the ASCRS journal I came across a story that covered Operation Sight and it instantly grabbed my attention.
Operation Sight provides more volunteers with the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities year-round and shed lights on the growing patient need in the U.S. How has the program supported your passion for making cataract care accessible?
Dr. Espinoza: I feel privileged to be able to serve in my own clinic and community those who are otherwise unable to afford the access to the eye care they need. Operation sight has allowed me to fulfill my desire to donate my time and skills to help restore sight without having to leave the country or even my clinic.
In 2021, you accepted your first Operation Sight patient match for charitable cataract surgery. What was your experience accepting and providing free cataract surgery to this patient?
Dr. Espinoza: Once I was able to work through the process of accepting my first patient, the rest was seamless. From the moment the patient was in our office they were evaluated and fit in easily to our established flow of pre-op and post operative care.
Our team works to make the process as easy as possible; we are so pleased to hear how seamless the process was for you! How has it inspired your commitment to ongoing volunteerism?
Dr. Espinoza: As an Ophthalmologist we are fortunate to have frequent recognition and gratitude by our patient's for what we do but having the ability to help someone for the sake of compassion and care rather than just work really helped remind me of why I chose Ophthalmology in the first place. As long as I am able, I look forward to continuing to volunteer as often as possible.
Post-surgery, Balchisu, an Operation Sight patient, who received cataract surgery from Dr. Espinoza and the wonderful team at Milan Eye Center, shared a heartfelt thank you:
"I just want to say a big thank you to Dr. Espinoza. You might not know what you have done for me, but I have my life back. Months ago, I did not think this was possible. My quality of life was just deteriorating as I was only confined to some areas of the house because I had some fears I will fall. Dr. Espinoza and his team were also very kind and polite which made the whole experience utterly comforting. I am forever grateful..."
For more information or to get involved in Operation Sight today, contact Jaya Minhas, Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.