East Texans are getting the chance to see more clearly through the annual Gift of Sight program

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Many East Texans are suffering from vision loss without the financial means to pay for a much needed eye surgery so for the past 23 years two Nacogdoches doctors have been giving the gift of sight pro bono.

Imagine everything you see is blurry and then one day and one surgery brings everything into focus.

That's exactly what's happening at the Lehmann Eye Center in Nacogdoches, Dr. Robert Lehmann and Dr. Timothy Young are doing eye surgeries at no-cost for their annual Gift of Sight program.

The Gift of Sight patients may not have insurance or the means to afford this kind of procedure so they're walking through those doors not being able to see clearly and about 10 minutes later they're being wheeled out with the opportunity for better vision.

"This time of year we're all reminded of the many blessings that we've been given and we feel fortunate that we're able to give that back to the community," said Dr. Young.

Ernest Starling has not been able to see out of his right eye for the past 4 years due to cataracts.

KTRE asked Starling what that's been like and he said, "Rough. Kind of hard to see, walk, judging your step, tripping over rocks and stumps."

It took Dr. Lehmann about 10 minutes to remove Starling's cataracts with the minimally invasive surgery.

And the results were crystal clear for Starling, after the surgery he said he can see.

Bobby Bennett is another Gift of Sight patient and he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2012 and his vision has slowly suffered.

"When I got diabetes my eyes got all blurry and I couldn't hardly see nothing," said Bennett.

And the hardest part for Bennett was losing his independence

"You know when you're used to doing stuff whenever you want to do it and then you can't do it and then you're not used to depending on nobody and then everything you do you have to depend on somebody. It just throws your world upside down," said Bennett.

Although the results for Bennett weren't as dramatic as Starling's instant clarity he says he's grateful for the chance to see better.

"So if this come out and work out alright. I'll be a happy man," said Bennett.

Both Bennett and Starling said they are looking forward to being able to go fishing again with their new and improved vision.

The Gift of Sight surgeries will continue Tuesday, November 26 and this year they won't end after these two days.

The doctors say they hope to expand their giving beyond just the two day event.

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