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SEE International Volunteers Perform Free Cataract Surgeries for Uninsured

Team donates time and skills to restore sight for Santa Barbara residents

On Saturday, Nov. 19, local ophthalmologists Michael Paveloff, Stuart Winthrop and Steven Zelko, and a medical team from the Santa Barbara Surgery Center donated their time and skills to perform cataract removal surgeries on low-income, uninsured Santa Barbara residents who had significant vision impairment due to advanced cataracts.

Many of the patients were too young to qualify for Medicare and had lost their vision, impacting their ability to work and provide for their families.

The free eye-surgery clinic was provided through the SEE International Santa Barbara Vision Care Program. Since 1992, more than 50,000 local men, women and children have received free eye care through the program, and 320 sight-restoring surgeries have been performed. So far this year, 23 local patients have received sight-restoring surgeries for conditions including cataract, ptergyium (a growth of tissue obstructing the eye) and strabismus (causes loss of muscle resulting in the eye to point in a different direction) through SBVCP.

Since being founded in Santa Barbara in 1974, SEE International has completed more than 400,000 sight-restoring surgeries worldwide, with more than 15,000 surgeries performed in 2010.

Many other local medical professionals gave of their time and skills to help restore sight to the uninsured Santa Barbara residents. Dr. Gary Anderson, medical director of the Santa Barbara Surgery Center, and Dr. Dave Vierra donated their services as anesthesiologists, as did the medical support staff of the Santa Barbara Surgery Center, including Ariana Murillo, Suzanne Reuter, Bonnie Pieper, Debbie Anderson, Theresa McDaniel, Michelle Aros, Wendy Brooks, Barbara Cogswell, Alice Payne, Sylvia Mendoza, Eric Reints, Wendy Echeverria, Troy Tauchman, Jane Collins, Juanita Gonzalez, Irma Avila, Mandy Meyer, Christi-Ann Young and Rochelle Garcia. The facility and infrastructure were provided by the Santa Barbara Surgery Center, and all medical supplies were donated by Alcon, SEE International, Dr. Michael Paveloff and the Santa Barbara Surgery Center.

Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that provides medical, surgical, and educational services by volunteer ophthalmic surgeons with the primary objective of restoring sight to disadvantaged blind individuals worldwide. Click here for more information.

— Marjorie Wass is a publicist representing SEE International.

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