Mission Cataract Oregon                                  Link to KATU's Everyday Heroes | See Recent Pictures

Mission Cataract Oregon offers free cataract surgery to low income individuals of all ages who have no insurance, and do not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or any other form of government assistance.

In Oregon, participating Lions Clubs and the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Founation help pre-qualify and pre-screen individuals in need of catarat surgeries, then team with an ophthalmologist who perform the surgery free of charge. 

A special thank you to EyeHealth NW who will assist 18 pre-qualified individuals on April 27th  and to Dr. Martin Balish of Oregon Eye Specialists who is scheduled to help nine pre-qualified individuals on May 31st. 

These key partnerships enable the Foundation to assist more people with sight and hearing saving surgeries and treatments.

How to Access This Program
Individuals calling the OLSHF Office for surgical assistance will be mailed an application and will be referred to their local Lion’s Club Sight and Hearing Chair to begin the application process.

The applicant must qualify for assistance under the Lions Patient Care Guidelines specified by the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation's Board of Trustees.

To qualify, a client must:

  1. Be a resident of the State of Oregon for at least 2 years.
  2. Be sponsored by his or her local Lions, Lioness, Leo or Lions Auxiliary Club.
  3. Be qualified according to the financial guidelines of the Lions Patient Care Program that are set at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  4. Be without other resources to pay for treatment; this includes private insurance coverage.
  5. It should be noted that the Lions Foundation is considered a "court of last resort." All other possible resources should be exhausted before the Lions' Patient Care Program is accessed.

Mission Cataract USA was started in 1991 by Frederick A. Richburg, MD, Medical Director of Valley Eye Institute in California. He decided to donate one day for free cataract surgery and launched the program with a group of local volunteers in Fresno. 

Oregon Participants
In 1993, the Mission Cataract USA program expanded nationwide and Jon-Marc Weston, MD, of Weston Eye Center, Roseburg, started the program in Oregon.  As a Roseburg Lion, Dr. Weston's goal was to have clubs in every Oregon community partner with surgeons and facilities for an annual free program.

"Having participated in international surgicl missions, I saw a great unmet need where people in my own community couldn't access this vision restoring procdure because of inability to pay.  I decided to take a more proactive approach and provide surgery to an average of 20 people each year," said Dr. Weston.

In 2008, Martin Balish, MD, of Oregon Eye Specialists, was recruited to Mission Cataract by the Beaverton Lions Cub.  Dr. Balish, anesthesilogist Dr. Todd Tolan, and the entire staff donate their expertise, equipment, supplies and facility every year to assist at least eight people every year.

"So many eye doctors are doing mission work in other countries... I feel more can be done at home.  I hope to bring the latest technological advances in eye surgery to those who are most in need and don't have the means to pay for it," stated Dr. Balish.

Doctors Mark Fay and Scott Stevens, of Klamath Eye Center, also find their participation in Mission Cataract very fulfilling. 

"The experience of helping patients who do not have the financial means for their eye surgery brings great satisfaction and fulfillment," said Dr. Fay. 

"After Mission Cataract Day, we receive notes of appreciation from grateful recipients.  It is very rewarding to know we help restore vision to many who would otherwise go through each day struggling to see," explained Dr. Stevens.

Doctors at EyeHealth Northwest in Portland joined the Mission Cataract program in 2011.  They have agreed to donate two Mission Cataract Days per year and all 12 doctors will be participating.  This partnership will enable us to help up to 60 individuals every year.

"We have done a large number of international medical mission trips and we wanted to contribute to the underserved patients of our region.  The Lions organization has consistently provided care and resources throughout our community, thus we felt they would be a good partner to help us contribute to those most in need," expressed Roger Saulson, MD.

Paul Stromberg, MD, added "Doing volunteer cataract surgery satisfies many of the reasons I went into medicine as a career.  A simple 15 minute operation can change someone for the rest of their life."

Words of Appreciation
"I am overwhelmed by your kindness.  I'm so blessed and thankful to everyone at your organization." - Elvin H., Salem

"I cried when I found out I was selected... this is going to change my life completely!" - Eileen O., Portland

"I was looking at the prospect of losing my grandson and my independence - going blind was taking everything out from underneath me.  Now everything is going to be alright and it's all because of what you do." - Kimberly T., Springfield

"When the doctor told me I would slowly lose my vision, I implored him to help.  He told me cataract surgery was very expensive and that nobody would do it free of charge. I felt desperately alone and wondered 'What's going to happen to me now?' You gave a hopeless woman hope... you are such a blessing!" - Irma S., Hillsboro