MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Fifteen minutes in an operating room at Hamilton Eye Institute changed the world of dozens of people Friday.
Patients who used to have cloudy vision were restored to 20/20 or better after free cataract surgery.
"I couldn't read my tape measurer. I couldn't see the marks on the wood, and that's pretty dangerous thing to be doing when you cant see what you are doing," patient Marty Goodman said.
For years, Goodman's blurry vision left him only able to clearly see things within an arm's length. With his eyesight failing, he feared he would have to give up his love of carpentry.
"I just about had to quit working. I was about ready to quit driving because I just couldn't see to do it anymore. And this changed all of that," Goodman said.
A change that first started with the sight-saving surgery last year at the first Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon.
During the two-day event, doctors and staff donated their time to restore vision to Goodman's left eye and many others.
"I could see on my way home from them doing the eye," Goodman said.
The life-changing event honors the late Dr. Ivan Marais--innovator of cataract surgery.
It was the vision of Dr. Brain Fowler and Dr. Emily Grave to help people in the Mid-South like Goodman who may not be able to afford the cataract surgery.
"I have done a lot of international mission work, and you come home and you find yourself facing a lot of the same things here just right in your own backyard," Dr. Graves, a ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon, said.
"We don't just give them their vision back, it gives them their independence back, their ability to work again back, and they become active members of society again," Dr. Fowler, vice chair of clinical operations at the Hamilton Eye Institute, said.
With help from the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service and other community partners, more than 50 Mid-Southerns will leave seeing clearer.
The change for Goodman happened in a matter of minutes.
"I could never have done with out the Lions. I could never have done it with this kind of money of my own. The people that donated this money have not wasted it," Goodman said.
Goodman now returns home to Columbus, Mississippi, with a new outlook on life.
Cataracts are the world's most common cause of blindness.
People came from Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee to get the procedure, and will get follow-up care as well.
Dr. Fowler plans to expand this event to other hospitals and bring it back in October.
Since last year more than 30 people have received the gift of sight, and Dr. Fowler hopes to grow the event each year.