by Angela Sams
Can you imagine a life without sight? Those who are blind face many challenges on a daily basis—challenges that probably don’t even occur to those who can see. Enter Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepali ophthalmologist who is on a mission to help the blind see, using a procedure called the “Nepal Method.” A recent article in the New York Times delves into his miraculous work.
Living blind in a country that is poor presents its own unique challenges, as access to healthcare may not even be an option. Dr. Ruit is pushing past these barriers by offering a cataract microsurgery to patients for only $25. It is a technique that he developed, and it is now being taught to medical students in the United States.
For the powerful impact the microsurgery has on its recipient, you would think it wouldn’t be so simple. That could not be further from the truth. The entire process takes about five minutes, and involves removing the cataract on a patient’s eye and replacing it with a new lens. A procedure that was once seen as something that could only be done with expensive machines, Dr. Ruit’s procedure is just as effective. The big difference is that it is much more affordable.
The cure for blindness extends beyond Nepal. A charity called the Himalayan Cataract Project helps ensure that other countries such as Ethiopia and Ghana can also benefit. The charity was started by Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, another eye specialist who has been working next to Dr. Ruit in Nepal.
In addition to removing the cataracts of the blind, Dr. Ruit founded the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, which includes “hospitals, outreach clinics and training programs and an eye bank, using fees from better-off patients to support impoverished ones.” Approximately 30,000 patients will receive eye surgery from the institute annually.
It seems that the success in Nepal is just the beginning of something great. Stories such as this give us reason to believe that blindness can eventually be eradicated, one eye at a time.