My cataract surgery story is really about hope and being thankful. In a world which many times appears to be driven by self absorption, corporate greed and an insatiable desire to have more, it is so hopeful to know someone like Dr. Modi and his staff. This is the remarkable story of what happened.
I first met Dennis when he was a guest at Winterhaven, a homeless shelter run by the Newburgh Ministry. I found him sitting in the dining room at 6am, reading his bible. He was holding the book so close to his face that it was nearly touching his nose. He told me that his glasses had been broken. I had recently heard of a program called “The Gift of Sight” sponsored by LensCrafters®. An eye exam and glasses would be provided at no cost to people in need. With great hope, Dennis and I traveled to see Dr. Ketan Kutlerywala at the LensCrafters® in Poughkeepsie. On the way he shared his story.
Dennis had worked all his life, but was recently laid off and like many others, was one paycheck away from having nothing. He had been sharing an apartment with a friend, but when the friend moved, Dennis couldn’t afford the entire rent, necessitating his move to our shelter. Each day he searched for work but there were two strikes against him- his age, being almost 60, and his poor vision. Yet this tall lanky man with an infectious laugh, sang up and down the corridors, helped with whatever we needed, and insisted that God was with him.
That faith was sorely tested by Dr. Ketan’s report- there were no glasses that could help Dennis. He had cataracts that were so dense and thick that he would soon be blind unless they were surgically removed-an impossibility for someone who has no medical insurance. An application for Medicaid had been denied. The gross amount of Dennis’ small unemployment check put him just dollars over the limit, even though most of it went for child support to help put his daughter through college. The ironic fact was that if Dennis did lose his sight he would qualify for many benefits, but there was no help to save his vision. I was filled with the darkness of frustration. Dennis still sang the songs of faith.
It must have been that faith that inspired me to call Dr. Modi and speak to Stacey, his office manager. I would have understood if the answer had been, “I’m sorry, but the Doctor can’t help” instead I heard, “We’ll get back to you.” A tiny flicker of light started to grow in my heart. And then the miracle happened! Dr. Modi would perform two surgeries at no cost and provide medications and follow-up care. Stacey said, “This is what we do.” Dr. Modi said, “We have to give back.” Dennis’ joy is unprintable.
I have one more thing to share with you: On the drive home from Dennis’ first cataract surgery, as we crossed over the Mid-Hudson Bridge, I had the profound experience of witnessing the joy of someone who sees the beauty of creation as if for the first time. It was like driving through the Garden of Eden with Adam sitting next to me. The holy gifts of wonder and awe were celebrated as Dennis rejoiced in hills and orchards, ponds and sky and the bounty that surrounds us.
The goodness continues--Dennis has found work at West Point, and his life will continue and I now have the clear vision of knowing that there is more goodness in our world than there is evil; it just doesn’t make the six o’clock news.
THANK YOU, DR. MODI! - “I once was blind but now I see!”
If you or someone you know has questions or concerns about cataract surgery please feel free to call Seeta Eye Centers and schedule an eye examination by calling 845-454-1025 , visiting Seeta Eye Centers or facebook.com/seetaeyecenters.
Seeta Eye Centers is conveniently located for patients from Westchester County, Rockland County and throughout the Hudson Valley, Dutchess County and Orange County including Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, Middletown, Kingston, New Paltz, Newburgh, Beacon, Bedford, Catskill, Cornwall, Eastchester, Ellenville, Florida, Goshen, Harriman, Harrison, Highland, Highland Falls, Kerhonkson, Mahopac, Monroe, Montgomery, Mount Kisco, New Rochelle, New City, Scarsdale, Saugerties, Spring Valley, Tarrytown, West Point, White Plains, Woodstock, Yorktown Heights and Yonkers, NY.