NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A few lucky East Texans with eye problems walked into the into the Lehmann Eye Center in Nacogdoches and walked out with better vision at no cost to them thanks to the annual Gift of Sight program.
KTRE was there as a Tenaha woman saw for the first time in years.
Lana Carr was waiting to have surgery to remove a cataract that has left her totally blind in her left eye through the Gift of Sight program, but this isn't the first time she's been at the Lehmann Eye Center
"When I was young, I didn't protect my eyes which everyone should learn to do with sunglasses. I exposed them to a lot of sunlight over the years, and cataracts formed," Carr said. "I lost my sight in the my right eye a few years ago. I came to Lehmann, and they corrected that one. Now, I'm blind in my left eye and they're correct that problem today."
Carr had an advanced cataract in her left eye, and her eye problems have drastically impacted her life.
"I had to give up driving, my hobbies of reading, and handicrafts I can't do as well. I can't watch television as well," Carr said.
It's the 24th year for the program, and Dr. Robert Lehmann said he still gets the same amount of excitement helping those who don't have the money to pay for eye surgery as he did for the first Gift of Sight patient.
"This is still one of the happiest days of our year because we see the joy on our patient's faces, and we see that throughout the year on our patients when they come in and have cataract surgery and refractive surgery," Lehmann said. "These folks have for whatever reason not been able to have the procedure at the time they really needed it and in many cases have waited longer than they should have waited with poor vision."
Carr said she feels blessed to have the opportunity to see again.
"I would be totally blind as of this day in both eyes if it were not for this program," Carr said.
The procedure took less than 20 minutes, and Carr said it was painless and fun.
"Wonderful. Blessed. I can see again. I'm no longer blind. Like I said it's just God's blessings because without this program, there is no way I could sit here and see you with my left eye," Carr said.
Dr. Lehmann and his associates have been giving the gift of sight for 24 years. About 600 East Texans have benefited from the program.
"It's one of the greatest blessings to be able to give back and be a part of this profession," Lehmann said.