A Wish Come True: Client’s Sight Restored with Gift of Surgery
Cheryl Villalva, a 56-year-old woman from Green Cove Springs, visited the Evangel Temple Southwest food bank in August 2017. While there, she noticed that Vision Is Priceless was offering free vision screenings. Since she was having a problem seeing out of her right eye and could no longer safely drive her car at night, she decided to check her vision. Vanilla Pittman, Vision Is Priceless Case Manager, explained to Cheryl that she failed the acuity portion of the vision screening. Since Cheryl did not have insurance to cover an eye exam and her income was below 200% of the Federal poverty level, she qualified to receive a free eye exam through Vision Is Priceless.
Dr. Brian Schwam, Vision Is Priceless’ volunteer ophthalmologist and Chief Medical Officer for Johnson & Johnson Vision, provided Ms. Villalva with a comprehensive eye exam at The Way Clinic in Green Cove Springs on October 21, 2017. He was assisted by Mr. Lee Lester, Vision Is Priceless’ volunteer technician from Levenson Eye Associates. Mr. Lester performed Cheryl’s pre-test on the St. Vincent’s-THE PLAYERS Mobile Health Outreach Vision Unit, parked just outside the clinic.
Dr. Schwam told Cheryl that unfortunately, prescription glasses would not help her see clearly because she had a cataract. He asked the staff at Vision Is Priceless to connect Ms. Villalva with a specialist for a cataract evaluation.
Within two-weeks, Dr. Sing Your Li from Levenson Eye Associates provided a free specialty appointment. Dr. Li confirmed that Cheryl had a cataract. He also discovered that Cheryl had a weak vein in the back of her eye and that she had experienced an “eye stroke.” Dr. Li recommended Cheryl for the Gift of Sight program to receive free cataract surgery.
The Gift of Sight program was established over 25 years ago by Jacksonville ophthalmologist Jeffrey Levenson, MD, founder of Levenson Eye Associates. The program provides free surgeries to patients who have no access to insurance and are legally blind due to cataracts.
Throughout the years, Dr. Levenson’s generosity and philanthropic spirit has helped restore vision to more than 350 people in Northeast Florida. This year, Dr. Levenson was joined by colleagues such as Dr. Li, who helped carry out his mission to ensure that no First Coast residents remain needlessly blind from a correctable disease for lack of funds.
On Thursday, December 21, 2017 Cheryl’s sight was restored by Dr. Li through the Gift of Sight program. Cheryl states, “I feel blessed to be receiving the surgery…I had resolved I probably wouldn’t get help and that I would have to deal with losing my sight because I didn’t have access to care.” She is very excited and grateful that she was able to get help and re-gain her vision.
Cheryl loves to read and looks forward to being able to enjoy books again. She is also excited to use her gift to serve others, since she is an avid volunteer and an active member of the community. Currently, she helps monitor a website for families in need in Northeast Florida.
Click here to to find out if you qualify for our Vision Care Services.