JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Antonio Ricardo is on his way to better sight.
He was one of 30 patients who received much-needed cataract surgery for free early Saturday morning thanks to a charity called Florida Eye Cares.
“I am sure it will enhance my life, and I would enjoy more,” he said.
Dr. Akbar Hasan was one of nine doctors volunteering at Southpoint Surgery Center to perform the surgery that can cost more than $5,000 per eye out of pocket.
“Whether it’s cataract surgery, Lasik surgery or corneal transplants, all of it is aimed to getting people seeing again and getting back to the things they need and want to do,” said Hasan.
Ricardo is thankful to be one of those who received the gift of sight for the holidays
The 77-year old lost his wife to breast cancer almost 30 years ago while living in the Philippines.
He had to spend most of his life savings on medical expenses.
“There is a reason for it you may not be able to understand,” Ricardo said. “Then you have to move ahead.”
After moving to Jacksonville in 2017, Ricardo’s vision kept getting worse.
With no insurance, Ricardo could not afford to pay for cataract surgery.
That cost him the ability to do with ease some things he loves, like watching movies and playing tennis.
“With impaired vision, I cannot really enjoy much,” he said. “I need to stand up and to move closer just to see the subtitles.”
That changed Saturday. Ricardo said he is ready to get back to his passions without any problems. He is also eager to pick up a job, potentially as a researcher or writer.
He expressed his gratitude to the doctors both in person and in a social media post.
“I am really very grateful and I cannot find enough words to express my appreciation,” Ricardo said.
“We really want to try to help as many people as we can,” Hasan said.