Phillips Eye Institute
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Sight for Soldiers
See more clearly
Phillips Eye Institute offers
the latest technology
for laser vision
correction surgery, along with a highly
experienced medical team and
excellent treatment results.
Giving the gift of good vision
When Captain Joe H. of the Minnesota National Guard returns to Iraq later this year, he’ll spend at least part of his tour in the combat zone.
Thankfully, he’ll have one less thing to worry about when attacks come in the middle of the night: no longer will he be fumbling for his glasses as he makes his way to the safety of the bunker.
Free surgery for troops
Joe is one of more than 500 soldiers who have benefited from the Sight for Soldiers program made possible by a number of local ophthalmologists, including Neal Sher, MD, Eye Care Associates, and Phillips Eye Institute, the region's only specialty eye hospital.
The program provides free laser vision correction surgery to troops in the National Guard and Reserves. Unlike those serving in the regular armed forces, these soldiers typically can't access such surgery through military channels, and many can’t afford it on their own.
In 2004, Sher began offering the surgery free to a few soldiers. Phillips Eye Institute agreed to waive its fees, so the soldiers have no out-of-pocket costs. Word spread among soldiers and their families and eventually up the chain of command. In 2008, Sher received a personal letter of commendation from Gen. David Petraeus, then commanding general, Multi-National Force – Iraq.
A true lifesaver
Having good vision without eyeglasses or contact lenses isn't just a convenience in an environment like Afghanistan or Iraq. "Glasses can be broken or lost, and the dry climate, high altitude and dust are not conducive to contacts," said Sher. "For soldiers in harm's way, good vision can be a lifesaver."
As Joe's eyes healed from surgery, he gauged his progress by looking out his window each morning. "Every day, the leaves and branches on the tree outside became more crisp and clear."
"People who haven't lived with poor vision may not realize what a life-changing procedure this is," he added. "This gift has inspired me personally, and I only hope that I can pay it forward."
Source: Healthy Communities Magazine, fall 2011
Reviewed by: Neal Sher, MD, Eye Care Associates, Phillips Eye Institute
First Published: 09/12/2011
Last Reviewed: 09/12/2011