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Grateful patients donate to support eye care for all

December 02, 2022 | UCI Health
Dr. Mitul Mehta watches Dr. Marjan Farid perform an eye exam on a patient.

Dr. Marjan Farid, director of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, tests a patient's vision as retina specialist Dr. Mitul Mehta observes. Photo by Jared Novakovich.

Yolanda De La Paz began having trouble seeing with her right eye in 2015. After two procedures to repair a torn retina, she thought she was on the road to recovery.

That is until she awakened one morning and couldn't see lines that appeared straight. Her doctor diagnosed her with a macular hole on a Friday and gave her the weekend to consider treatment options.

De La Paz went home and perused a newsletter she'd recently received from the UCI Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute

Reading about the treatments and expert eye doctors offered at Orange County's only academic eye care center prompted her and her husband, Dennis, to visit the UCI Health website to learn more about the eye institute’s ophthalmologists.

First thing Monday morning, she called retina specialist Dr. Mitul Mehta.

Seeking out the experts

“We lucked out and were able to get an appointment that Thursday,” she says. “Dr. Mehta’s examination took almost an hour. When he finished, he looked at me and my husband and said, ‘You don’t have options, you have to have surgery.’ ”

That surgery was successful, but her right eye needed additional treatment.

Mehta referred her to Dr. Marjan Farid, the eye institute's director of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery, who performed cataract surgery. Farid also implanted specially shaped toric lenses, to eliminate the need for corrective eyeglasses.

Recently De La Paz had surgery to remove a benign growth on the white of her eye and she also sees UCI Health glaucoma specialist Dr. Sameh Mosaed to control her eye pressure.

Under a single roof

“I’m particularly grateful that at the eye institute, you have specialists in retina, cornea, macular degeneration, glaucoma, inflammation — everything all in one place,” says Dennis De La Paz.

Impressed with his wife’s experience, he started seeing the institute’s ophthalmologists. Mehta removed calcium deposits called asteroid hyalosis from his eyes, giving him better visual clarity. Farid implanted toric lenses in his eyes, too, so now he no longer needs corrective glasses.

The couple have been so delighted with their eye care that they decided to switch to UCI Health for their primary and some specialty care needs.

The longtime Corona del Mar residents also appreciate the easy drive to the UCI campus in Irvine for the eye institute, Gottschalk Medical Plaza and soon, the new UCI Health — Irvine medical complex, which is under construction on the university's north campus at Jamboree and Campus Drive.

A gift for future patients

“Every time you turn around, there’s some new advancement,” Dennis De La Paz marvels. “We want to help make sure that the research, surgeries, doctors and techniques all continue to improve.”

To that end, the couple has made the eye institute a beneficiary of two of their trusts. With this type of planned gift, the couple is leaving a legacy that will ensure future patients benefit from the institute’s life-changing vision research and clinical care, just as they have.

“When doing your estate planning, you can always take care of your family,” says Yolanda De La Paz. “But we also wanted to look to the institutions and organizations that make a difference. By supporting the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, you’re supporting the entire Orange County community.”

Learn more about supporting the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute ›

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