For A Good Cause:

Vision of aid helps others to see

Newport eye surgeon’s program offers free eye surgeries to individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

November 21, 2007|By Sue Thoensen

John Wilkins, a firefighter with the Los Angeles City Fire Department working at LAX, responded to a 4 a.m. call at the airport two years ago.

While driving the fire truck, Wilkins, wearing glasses, was still having trouble seeing where he was going.

With the help of Newport Beach eye surgeon Gregg Feinerman, Wilkins received free lasik surgery within months of the incident.

Wilkins tells his kids there are two kinds of people in this world — givers and takers.

“He [Feinerman] is definitely a giver,” Wilkins said.

Feinerman is the founder of Operation In-Sight, a program that offers free eye surgeries to public servants and individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.


He went into private practice in Newport Beach in 2001, and after purchasing his own surgery center in Irvine in 2004, Feinerman said he now has the freedom he needs to perform surgeries at no cost to the patients who are coming to him for help.

Feinerman said he knows he’s lucky.

“I’m a young guy, I have my own practice and I’m very successful. I want to do something more meaningful, and give something back,” he said.

Feinerman performs lasik surgery at the office, and the more involved cataract and lens implant surgery at the surgery center.

Feinerman has a stack of requests from people who write in asking for help and requiring treatment, but he can only perform one surgery a month.

His staff reviews the letters, then chooses a candidate based on priority and need.

Feinerman has performed surgery on a woman wanting to become an FBI agent who had gotten through school in spite of a difficult life, passed all the required tests and then couldn’t get in because of her vision.

A caregiver almost had to leave her job because she couldn’t see well enough to care for her clients anymore, and an elderly woman was brought in by her landlord when he realized she wasn’t paying her rent because she couldn’t see well enough to write out the checks.

Every time they perform surgery on someone in need, Feinerman said he can see the impact they have on someone’s life.

“It’s really cool to be able to do something like that for people and make a difference in their lives.”

Feinerman recently went to Vietnam, where he donated time, equipment and supplies to perform cataract surgery on older patients.

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