Provided by The Hamilton Eye Institute Lions Club

Just imagine you are slowly going blind as your cataracts continue to get worse daily, and you have no means to have the problem corrected. Then you learn that Lions Clubs help needy patients receive eye surgery. Your local Lions Club refers you to the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service for assistance with removing your cataracts.

 Due to a dramatically increased need for service, you have been on the patient waiting list for over a year. Then finally you receive a call for a pre-surgical screening interview at the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) in Memphis and approved to have the cataract on your right eye removed.

 When the day finally arrives, you grab a bus to the Hamilton Eye Institute-sponsored “Mission Trip to Memphis.” Unfortunately, no one is available to accompany you to surgery, which jeopardizes your chance at surgery. You worry that you will continue to live in darkness. However, Mid-South Lions program director Betty Douglas, and two visiting Missouri Lions, Noma Paulin and Jennie Mosher, are available to accompany you and another patient through the process. During this daylong process, the volunteers provided lunch and comfort to patients as they awaited post-op exams.


During that first “Dr. Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon” doctors successfully preformed approximately 30 procedures that day.

“It was special to walk into a packed entrance this morning busy with excited patients and volunteers,” said Dr. Brian Fowler, one of the attending physicians. “It had the same buzz as a mission trip overseas, but right here in everyone’s backyards. And that’s the best part: we are helping our own community. The patients are our neighbors. Many told stories of not being able to work, drive or see their family because of their inability to see through dense cataracts that are, as you all know, curable. Together we can change the lives of so many! A special thank you to the Mid-South Lions for involving us in their lifelong mission: To eradicate preventable and curable blindness.”


The Hamilton Eye Institute Lions Club organized and conducted the 2017 Dr. Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon along with many other volunteers and donors. The event is sponsored by the HEI Lions Club, HEI Surgery Center, Mid-South-area ophthalmologists and medical personnel, Alcon, Novartis, Imprimis, Cardinal Health, Southern College of Optometry, the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight, Mid-South Lions, a large staff of doctors, members of several local Lions Clubs and other volunteers.

This particular patient required additional surgical procedures and continues to receive care through the Hamilton Eye Institute Surgery Center and Mid-South Lions. Doctors believe there is a good chance he will fully regain his sight.

Plans are already in place for the 2018 Dr. Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon on June 15 and 16.

The Hamilton Eye Institute Lions Club is planning to perform 70+ free cataract procedures. Patients, all from the Mid-South Lions waiting list will be coming from Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Volunteers are needed during this two-part event.
EXAM-A-THON (Exam-A-Thon: Registration, Financials and Pre-Op Clinicals)
May 12 and May 19
7am – 4pm
Needed: 12 to 15 volunteers primarily before noon per day. Tasks include Greeters, Crowd Control, Paperwork/Financials, Transportation (in building), Food/Drink Service, Setup, Clean Up, etc.

June 15 and 16
7am – 4pm
Needed: 10 volunteers per day. Tasks include Greeters, Food/Drink Service, Setup, Clean Up, etc. Work schedules are flexible. You may volunteer for full or partial days and for any number of days.

To volunteer, please call Lion Betty at 888.546.6042 ext 3.
Questions, contact Lion Scott at 901.493.9300 or

*Event Times Subject to Change