Dr. Asa Morton’s dedication to making an impact in ophthalmology continues to extend into his philanthropic efforts. He regularly gives back to the community by participating in mission trips with charitable organizations. Dr. Morton, an oculofacial and plastic surgeon at Eye Care of San Diego, recently completed his 29th mission trip with HELPS International, where he and his team helped improve the vision and quality of life for several hundred Guatemalan citizens. 

The Guatemala Mission Trip Team 

His team in Guatemala consisted of three cataract surgeons, two strabismus surgeons, an oculoplastic surgeon, 75 volunteers, and 10 Guatemalan translators. Together, they performed a total of 428 procedures. Dr. Morton’s wife, Kiki, was one of the volunteers managing the consenting desk.

Changing Lives through Oculoplastic Surgery

Dr. Morton and his team made a significant difference in many patients’ lives, especially those with special cases. One patient, suffering from severe pain due to a tumor in his eye, couldn’t afford radiation or therapy. Dr. Morton performed an exenteration followed by an enucleation to improve his quality of life, leaving him pain-free after the procedure. Another patient had a tumor called retinoblastoma and required an enucleation to prevent the tumor from spreading. The patient stories and cases go on. 

Dr. Morton also met with a patient who needed surgery for an advanced case of an infected tear drain sac, a condition very common in Guatemala. The team performed about 20 such procedures during this trip. A young girl born without eyelids had a suspension rod placed in her left upper eyelid so she could open her eyes.

Other cases included a nine-year-old who received a prosthetic eye after an injury and a young boy who was overjoyed after having his eyelid lifting muscle tightened, enabling him to open his eye. 

The Beloved Therapy Dog 

The team’s therapy dog, Black, who belonged to one of the volunteers, livened the mood and spread joyful energy. His presence brought smiles to the faces of both patients and volunteers. Black’s comforting presence truly made a difference, and by the end of the trip, everyone wanted to take him home. 

Dr. Morton spends quality time with Black, the therapy dog.

Dr. Morton has helped raise funds for equipment and other necessities for mission trips like this. He believes that our success in life largely depends on the good fortune of where and to whom we are born. It’s not enough to just embrace that success as a result of our hard work; we owe the universe something in return. Eye Care of San Diego is proud of our doctors whose compassionate care knows no bounds. 

Post-op clinic after cataract surgery 

Definitions of terms: 

Enucleation: The surgical procedure that involves removal of the entire globe and its intraocular contents, with preservation of all other periorbital and orbital structures. (American Academy of Ophthalmology) 

Exenteration: A surgical procedure involving removal of the entire globe and its surrounding structures, including muscles, fat, nerves, and eyelids. (American Academy of Ophthalmology).