A non-profit that performs free cataract surgeries and cures hundreds of people of blindness every day
The Himalayan Cataract Project is a nonprofit started by two ophthalmologists Dr Geoffrey Tabin and Dr Sanduk Ruit with the aim of providing cheap and sustainable eye care to people living in the Himalayan region. The duo believe suffering from blindness is particularly tough for people living in rugged terrains, so they work towards restoring their eye sight with a simple, minutes-long surgery.
When the two ophthalmologists first visited Nepal three decades ago, the cheapest cataract lens that was available cost over $250; but once the team started manufacturing the lenses locally, they brought the price tag down to under $25 per lens.
“Blindness is one of the neglected problems of global health but it’s also one of the few big problems that we can win,” says Dr Tabin. “From the first time I saw the miracle of cataract surgery on a totally blind patient, I realized that there is nothing else I can think of in the realm of medicine that is as cost-effective that we can do [to] really change lives instantaneously.”
The project now operates out of Ghana, Bhutan, India, Ethiopia, Myanmar and several others. On an average day, their clinics perform up to 200 cataract surgeries, each of which takes roughly 4 to 20 minutes to complete. After wearing gauze bandages over their eyes for 24 hours, most of their patients are capable of passing a driver’s license vision test the very next day.