Eye Center South

The Eye Center South building on Ross Clark Circle.

Eye Center South will offer at least 40 free cataract surgeries in August as part of its annual “Gift of Sight” campaign, which coincides with Cataract Awareness Month.

The Dothan ophthalmologic practice recently sent letters to optometrists in a 150-mile radius of Dothan seeking nominations of candidates for the surgery, said Katie Woodham, Eye Center South marketing director. The candidates should be people who need cataract surgery but cannot afford the procedure.

Those who feel like they qualify should discuss the program with their optometrists, Woodham said.

Cataracts are growths that develop on the lenses of our eyes as time progresses. As those growths progress, vision becomes impaired, Woodham said.

Cataract surgery involves using ultrasonic energy to break up the growths then using a specialized tool to vacuum the pieces out. Surgeons then install a synthetic lens to replace the old lens.

Woodham said surgeries themselves take about 10 minutes, though the testing leading up to the procedures takes a couple of hours. Full recovery takes one to two weeks, though most people experience drastic improvement within a day, she added.

Despite the minimally invasive nature of the surgery, it provides tremendous results since some people suffer from limited vision for years because of cataracts, Woodham said.

“We’ve had nursing home patients who gain sight for the first time in 20 years,” she said. “It’s a gradual thing, so people don’t realize it’s happening.”

The surgeries will occur at Eye Center South’s surgery center. Post-operative care will be handled by the optometrists who made the recommendations unless those optometrists do not usually handle post-op care.

In those cases, post-operative care will occur at Eye Center South.

Eye Center South doctors who will conduct the procedures Aug.5 through Aug. 17 are Dr. Marnix Heersink, Dr. Sebastian Heersink, Dr. William Bennett and Dr. Donald Gauldin.

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