A dedicated team of eye doctors are on a mission to rid the world of preventable blindness, one incision at a time.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018

Eyes are incredible and complex creations. To see, light is focused by the cornea, passes through a clear lens and is encoded by the retina, which sends electrical impulses to the brain. But if you have a cataract, proteins on the lens start to cloud together, creating blurry vision.Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness globally, and they have damaging impacts on life expectancy, especially in the developing world. But thanks to a revolutionary surgical method, sight can be restored in just under five minutes.

For over 20 years, Dr. Sanduk Ruit pioneered a surgical method and his team of doctors have performed over 600,000 surgeries.   In just five minutes, surgeons make a tiny incision in the eye, remove the cataract and insert an artificial lens. Dr. Ruit’s goal is to rid the world of treatable  blindness with this quick and affordable method.

Tucked away in the mountains of Nepal, crowds of prospective patients are waiting their turn for an eye exam. They’ve traveled long distances and across challenging terrain to the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, a nonprofit clinical eye facility founded by Dr. Ruit.

Born in Nepal, Dr. Ruit has dedicated his life’s work to bringing cost-effective, hospital grade care to the world’s poorest regions. “It's a beautiful moment. Every moment when the patches come off, when you see the smile on the patient's face, it's always very nice, it's this ticklish feeling. It charges your battery and makes you work harder.” Dr. Ruit and his team have established mobile surgery camps in North Korea, China, Bhutan, and Ethiopia, training local medical professionals and treating as many patients as possible. “Tilganga has been a front-runner in delivering this high quality surgery at places where there are no health facilities.” Dr. Ruit’s game changing surgical method comes down to a small incision and an affordable intraocular lens. The lenses are manufactured in a state of the art fabrication lab, and they cost just $4 each. These lenses typically cost $100 in the developed world. “These are highly special plastic materials that you put and have no reaction in the eye at all.” The lab produces about 350,000 lenses annually and sells them to over 60 countries. 

"There are many instances where it changes the life of the person. The things that we have done here in Nepal, especially in Tilganga, which has caused some revolution in public health of ophthalmology. Cataract surgeries, and of that, probably 15 million wouldn't have been able to get this surgery done if an organization like us hadn't done this kind of homework. So now they can get it done so the impact you can see. They can have this kind of surgery, cost effectively, the number of surgeries can go up. So I think that, it has a great public health impact.”

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