Guthrie Doctor on Mission to Improve Eye Care and Lives in Sierra Leone

February 3, 2023
Guthrie Doctor on Mission to Improve Eye Care and Lives in Sierra Leone

In recognition of National Women Physicians Day, Guthrie Ophthalmologist Dr. Cathy Schanzer shared details from her latest trip to the Southern Eye Clinic of Serabu in Sierra Leone. Schanzer and her husband led the development of the clinic in 2006, which is now open year-round with dozens of full-time employees and multiple satellite clinics.

Dr. Schanzer returns to Sierra Leone twice a year for several weeks. During her latest trip in January, she and her team, including an Ophthalmology Fellow and a staff doctor from Wills Eye Hospital, completed 476 procedures. They care for patients from seven West African countries, offering free and modern eye care services including exams, medicines, surgery, and glasses.

Dr. Schanzer says cataracts are the leading cause of reversible blindness in the poor and underserved region. Many of their patients have waited years to have their surgery because of poverty and lack of facilities. “I have felt a calling from God since I was a young child to be a missionary in Africa. I give Him the glory and I see it in the smiling faces of my patients.”

The Southern Eye Clinic of Serabu has been able to support numerous community development projects, including food programs, water wells, education scholarships, a 30-station computer center, sports activities for all ages and abilities, and faith sharing. For more information, go to