Why I Give – Dr. Albert Alley
“I’m a newcomer to the vision business, I’ve only been an ophthalmologist for 47 years,” Lebanon ophthalmologist Albert Alley joked. Helping people with vision issues has been a life-long passion, and has taken him all around the world.
In 1965, as Alley was finishing his medical internship, doctors were being drafted to serve in Vietnam. “I enlisted in the Air Force as a flight surgeon,” he said. When the call came for volunteers to assist civilian ophthalmologists at the base where he was stationed, Alley found his life’s calling.
Dr. Alley established a private practice in Lebanon in 1970, and it’s brought him much satisfaction over the years. “The success rate for vision corrective procedures and treatment is good. You know you’ve done something beneficial for your patients by their reaction!”
But there are gaps in what an ophthalmologist can do to support the needs of someone with vision loss.
VisionCorps helps to fill those gaps. Dr. Alley knows the benefits of VisionCorps’ rehabilitation services, especially for his patients with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and other chronic eye diseases. “They function better in their daily lives. They are more independent, and have a better attitude about their condition,” he said.
VisionCorps’ employment program is making a marked change in the lives of two of his young adult patients. “It adds so much to their lives! They feel they have some purpose and direction,” Dr. Alley says. “They are productive – going to work and earning a wage. And they are able to socialize with others who are successfully dealing with their visual disability, and are contented and fulfilled.”
Serving on the VisionCorps Board of Directors increased Dr. Alley’s support and respect for the organization. His generosity helped VisionCorps build a new facility in Lebanon called The Alley Center for the Blind. “I didn’t want people in my community to have to travel to access these world-class services,” he said.
Dr. Alley’s desire to help people with vision loss has no borders. On a trip to the Philippines, he was dismayed to witness cases of preventable blindness. “People were going blind from cataracts,” he said. “This is a treatable disease – a 30-minute operation!” In 1990, he co-founded World Blindness Outreach (WBO). “We focus on cataract, corneal transplants, and correcting crossed-eyes in children,” he said. “We’ve launched close to 100 missions in 26 countries, and have operated on more than 10,000 people with different degrees of blindness.” Grateful patients have created monuments and murals in his honor. (WGAL-TV showcased his 25th vision mission to the Dominican Republic that took place in January of this year in a one-hour TV special on March 6.)
Locally, VisionCorps is the guiding influence in the selection of eligible recipients for WBO’s Life Enhancement Awards. “These awards go to people with visual disabilities who could benefit from a gift of a high-tech instrument, training program, or financial assistance with transportation,” Dr. Alley said. “I feel blessed to be involved with VisionCorps. I speak from the heart, because I’ve seen first-hand the difference it has made in the lives of my patients.”