Visian ICL Gives Homeless Blind Man Gift of Sight and Hope


The holiday season is known as the season of giving, and Dr. Paul Dougherty - a Los Angeles Ophthalmologist - lent new meaning to those words when he gave a homeless man back not just his sight, but also his hope.

46-year-old Willie Bell, a homeless man in Los Angeles, was legally blind. Even with his glasses, the world was fuzzy and his eyesight was so bad he wasn't eligible for a driver's license. Willie attributed much of his misfortune- including his inability to get a job, which resulted in his homelessness- to his inability to see.

helping hand

Willie saw so poorly that his prescription was a -17, while standard Lasik eye surgery corrects only vision problems between a -2 and -4. Living on the street and in a hotel part time, Willie seemed to have few options, until he met Dr. Paul Dougherty of Dougherty Laser Vision in Los Angeles, at an event being held for homeless people.

Dougherty had pioneered a new procedure, called Vista Vision Implantable contact lenses, which provides an option for those whose vision cannot be corrected by Lasik. Although both Lasik and Vista Visian Implantable contacts, or I-Contacts, involve the use of lasers, Vista Visian places an artificial lenses in the eye which can correct vision problems that Lasik cannot.

Dr. Dougherty knew that this procedure could help Willie, and although Willie could never have afforded the procedure, Dr. Dougherty felt it was his obligation to aid, and gave the homeless man the gift of Vista Visian eye surgery.

Willie, who was unable to even see the clock before the procedure, opened his eyes after the approximately 20-minute long surgery, and his first response was "Oh lord, thank you Jesus." He calls the surgery a miracle, and this generous gift is likely to change his life forever. Willie now hopes to work in fitness, perhaps as a personal trainer some day.