Operation Sight Volunteer of the Year Spotlight: Reena Patel, MD | ASCRS
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Operation Sight 2022 Volunteer of the Year Spotlight: Reena Patel, MD

ASCRS Foundation Operation Sight Volunteer of the Year and ASCRS member, Reena Patel, MD is recognized for her incredible talent, generosity, and passion for providing patients in her community empowerment through vision. Recognizing the tangible need for accessible cataract treatment in her community, Dr. Patel founded the Wichita Vision Institute in hopes of bridging the current gap in care and for the past 18 years, Dr. Patel has tirelessly dedicated herself to the betterment of her community. Dr. Patel recently discussed her experiences with the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight program, the mutual benefits it offers surgeons, and how the program supports and inspires care where it is needed most.  Read Dr. Patel’s full interview below!



ASCRS Foundation: You are part of an Operation Sight volunteer network of over 750 ASCRS members and charitable organizations. What inspired you to first get involved with Operation Sight as a volunteer surgeon?


Dr. Patel: I went into ophthalmology to help people and to make a difference. Operation Sight allows me to provide valuable eye care to those who desperately need help with their sight.


ASCRS Foundation: Can you share about the pressing need you witnessed for uninsured/underinsured patients in financial need in your community and how Operation Sight has supported your passion to make care accessible?

Dr. Patel: There is a large number of uninsured and underinsured patients in my community and every community in the United States who are in financial need. Operation Sight provides screening to ensure that these patients qualify for services and match eligible patients with local surgeons.


Volunteering with Operation Sight is simple. They email the name of a patient in need of cataract surgery. They provide the relevant information needed and your office schedules the patient for a cataract evaluation and the rest is what you do normally. Your office staff may need to fill out paperwork to get free samples, free lenses, and free cataract packs for patients depending on where you operate and your arrangements at your surgical facility.



ASCRS Foundation: What was your experience like accepting and providing charitable cataract surgery to your first Operation Sight patient?


Dr. Patel: My first Operation Sight patient inspired me to provide more services to patients. He was very thankful and grateful, and as a result of the procedure was able to provide care for his aging parents, one of whom is blind.


ASCRS Foundation: Why have you chosen to continue to volunteer with Operation Sight?


Dr. Patel: Operation Sight helps me make a real difference in my community. Post lockdown, it is easy to feel burned out due to the catch-up of care for patients who did not seek care during the lockdown. Providing meaningful care to a patient who can help our local community only increases the impact I can provide.


ASCRS Foundation: What advice do you have for an ophthalmologist considering volunteering with Operation Sight?


Dr. Patel: If you are considering volunteering with Operation Sight, just do it! The staff are super easy to work with and you will be helping your local communities.


ASCRS Foundation: You have passionately spoken about the community-wide impact a single operation can have. Can you elaborate on what that impact might specifically look like in a family and community?


Dr. Patel: I am able to get hard-working individuals back to work, something the workforce needs now more than ever. These patients want to work but are unable to due to their visual impairment. By allowing patients to regain vision, we, as Operation Sight volunteer surgeons make a valuable contribution to our local communities. The gratitude you receive from your Operation Sight patients is more than enough payment and helps remind you why you went into ophthalmology in the first place.


One single surgery creates a ripple effect in a community. Current world events have been distressing. To be able to help one single person see the world in a better way is life-changing. Helping someone disadvantaged is my contribution to my community. With better vision, my patient is able to better take care of their family or work which allows their family to do better which allows my community to do better which allows our country to be better.


ASCRS Foundation: You have also been an active member in our online community. How has your experience been collaborating with Operation Sight on social media platforms?


Dr. Patel: Collaborating with Operation Sight on social media platforms has been unexpectedly fun. I had not had much experience with social media on such a large scale up to that point, and since then I have met and interacted with people across the world. It’s been a great learning experience, and I have been able to create awareness and prompt other ophthalmologists to donate their time. Operation Sight has been such a positive experience, and I encourage others to get involved!


ASCRS Foundation: Is there anything you want to express about your experience, Operation Sight, or the need for charitable care that you did not get a chance to in the previous questions?


Dr. Patel: I'd like to emphasize that charitable care is desperately needed in every community in the United States. I recently gave a talk at a CME event for local optometrists and my last slide included a picture of me with the Operation Sight Volunteer of the Year banner. I was very surprised at how many optometrists had questions about the program and it inspired a lively discussion about how much charitable care is needed in our community.

Do you share Dr. Patel’s passion for empowering your community through charitable care? Contact Program Manager Rachel Goode at rgoode@ascrs.org to learn more about volunteering with the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight program.

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