The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Foundation proudly announces Martin Spencer, MD, as the distinguished recipient of the 2024 ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award. This prestigious award, endowed by a generous gift from philanthropists David and Victoria Chang, honours individuals who demonstrate exemplary dedication to humanitarian efforts with a focus on addressing cataract blindness and disability.

Dr. Marty Spencer Training in the Tibetan Areas of China

Dr, Marty Spencer training in Thori, Nepal

Dr. Spencer, through years of dedicated service, has collaborated extensively with Seva Foundation and Seva Canada, contributing significantly to humanitarian efforts in Nepal and numerous other countries worldwide. Serving on the board of both organizations, he has prioritized service quality, volume, and  program sustainability, embodying the spirit of the Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award.

"I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive the ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award. This recognition not only symbolizes the collective efforts of those committed to eradicating cataract blindness and disability, but underscores the importance of sustained, impactful humanitarian service. I share this honour with the dedicated teams at Seva Foundation and Seva Canada, whose collaborative spirit propels our shared mission forward. Together, we will continue to make strides in restoring sight and improving countless lives around the world."

Established in 2017, the ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award recognizes and celebrates exceptional contributions to humanitarian work in the field of cataract blindness and disability. This annual accolade is awarded to individuals or organizations for their charitable accomplishments. The award recipient is formally acknowledged at the ASCRS Annual Meeting, accompanied by a $100,000 donation in their name to the charitable ophthalmic organization of their choice. Dr. Spencer has earmarked the financial prize to be split between Seva Canada and Seva Foundation efforts to strengthen eye program quality and sustainability.

"We are elated to recognize Dr. Martin Spencer as the 2024 recipient of the Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award. His profound commitment to alleviating cataract blindness and disability through humanitarian service is truly commendable. This award reflects not only his individual accomplishments, but also highlights the collective impact of organizations working towards a common goal," said ASCRS Foundation Chair Dr. Susan MacDonald.

The ASCRS Foundation extends its congratulations to Dr. Martin Spencer for this well-deserved honour  and looks forward to officially presenting the award at the ASCRS Annual Meeting in Boston in early April.

A Special Tribute to Dr. Marty Spencer From Seva Canada Program Director, Dr. Ken Bassett:

Few people are more revered by eye care providers, particularly ophthalmologists in Asia and Africa, than Dr. Marty Spencer, who has worked humbly and tirelessly to help them to provide high-quality care to the people they serve. His work epitomises international development with dignity, where Dr. Spencer’s success is measured by their success and the growth of their dignity as professionals, long after he has gone home.

Dr. Spencer with staff and trainees at an eye camp in Nep

Dr. Marty Spencer with staff and trainees at an eye camp in Nep

In the early 1980s, when the eye care community in most high-income countries argued that the new transformative, intraocular techniques were too expensive for most people, Marty ignored their advice, got on a plane, loaded it with equipment and became legendary as one of the first Western ophthalmologists to go to India to train in-country ophthalmic professionals in the use of current techniques.

Dr. Marty Spencer Training in the Tibetan Areas of China

Dr. Marty Spencer training in the Tibetan Areas of China

In the 1990s he was a key player in the creation of Aravind Eye Care System’s Aurolab, which reduced the cost of intraocular lenses from over $300 to less than $3. He developed an innovative surgical technique (manual sutureless cataract surgery) which became a global standard technique for decades. Nearly every year, and often twice a year throughout his practice career, Marty has been invited to visit eye programs to train, from the remote regions of Tibet, to the jungles of Madagascar.

Marty’s work has been transformative to eye care programs and through them transformative to so many people who are now able to see. He is the embodiment of “Seva” or selfless service and an inspiration to us all.

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