“I’m very grateful for the help of the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, and for the wonderful skill and care provided by Dr. Balish, Oregon Eye Specialists and Legacy Devers Eye Institute. I never imagined that so many people could care — and give so much!”
- Gloria Thompson, Mission Cataract Recipient

Mission Cataract

About The Program

The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) represents the Oregon Chapter of the Mission Cataract USA Program, which, with its partners, delivers free cataract surgeries to people of all ages who lack the means to pay for this critical care, or do not have qualifying insurance. OLSHF helps identify residents in need and then partners with ophthalmologists, like the Devers Eye Institute, to perform sight-saving surgeries.

“The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation and Devers Eye Institute have a rich history working together to provide our community’s vulnerable populations with the invaluable gift of sight. Devers is proud to continue this important partnership and looks forward to applying our expertise to the Mission Cataract Program and its recipients.”
– James T. Rosenbaum, M.D. Chenoweth Chair and Chief of Ophthalmology of Legacy Devers Eye Institute.

This year, OLSHF provided roughly 60 free cataract surgeries with partnering doctors and hospitals throughout the state. Additional Mission Cataract partners include EyeHealth NW, Dr. Mathew Neale with Pacific Cataract and Laser, Dr. Martin Balish with Oregon Eye Specialists, and Lion Dr. Jon-Marc Weston at Weston Eye Center.

How to Access This Program

To access this program, applicants must call the OLSHF at (503) 413-7399 phone or e-mail their contact information and request to info@olshf.org.

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:

  • Be a resident of the State of Oregon for at least 2 years.
  • Be sponsored by his or her local Lions, Lioness, Leo or Lions Auxiliary Club.
  • Be qualified according to the financial guidelines of the Lions Patient Care Program that are set at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Be without other resources to pay for treatment; this includes private insurance coverage

It should be noted that the Lions Foundation is considered a “court of last resort.” All other possible resources should be exhausted before the Patient Care Program is accessed.

History

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 surgical missions, I saw a great unmet need where people in my own community couldn’t access this vision restoring procedure 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, anesthesiologist 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.