SAN JOSE (CBS 5) – Dr. Michael Furlong started the Gift of Sight program from his San Jose office in 2002. Each year, he gives about ten people in need a free life-changing eye procedure.
“Just try your best to relax your eyelids,” Dr. Furlong told Wilhelmina Foronda, as she sat perfectly still.
With this eye surgery, Foronda can set her sights on playing sports without glasses that fog up or fall down.
“It’s been exciting for my staff, we get energized every year this time of year so we can provide these services,” Furlong explained. “They see better with their glasses, but many of them choose not to wear them or they don’t fit appropriately or they’re heavy, they lose them all the time, so they live with suboptimal vision. This is a way to provide them with excellent vision.”
The procedures he performs are PRK or LASIK – two elective laser surgeries that insurance doesn’t cover. Dr. Furlong also adds free pre- and post-op care. Over the past nine years, he’s helped clients at several nonprofits, but had a clear vision for helping the developmentally disabled.
Dr. Furlong has focused on HOPE Services the last six years, a nonprofit that helps developmentally disabled clients acquire life skills and jobs. He’s also performed the free surgery for HOPE staff members like Foronda.
“He’s awesome,” Foronda said. “He’s got a great heart, helping people.”
In all, Dr. Furlong has provided free surgeries for 65 patients. That’s $450,000 worth of surgeries, and more than 400 donated hours.
HOPE Services client Robert Faber said he can now clean more donated bicycles to sell. Dr. Furlong’s corrected his eyesight three years ago.
“I was so happy about it. I could see a lot better, not have to wear glasses anymore,” Faber remembered.
HOPE Services President and CEO John Christensen said he’s seen many clients develop self confidence after the free eye procedure.
“To be glasses-free is such a gift. It truly is a gift of sight,” Christensen said.
And as Dr. Furlong expands his paying practice, he hopes to extend the Gift of Sight program throughout the Bay Area.
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