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Stanford University School of Medicine

Working to reverse blindness in the Himalayas and beyond

The opening sentences alone grab you: "In the remote village where Geoff Tabin, MD, lived while working at a Nepalese hospital in the late 1980s, blindness was akin to a death sentence. 'It was just accepted that you get old, your hair turns white, your eyes turn white, you go blind and you die,' he says."

So begins the compelling Stanford Medicine magazine piece on Tabin, an ophthalmologist who recently joined the Stanford faculty, and his work to reverse treatable blindness on the other side of the globe. In 1995, Tabin teamed up with Nepalese physician Sanduk Ruit, MD, to co-found the Himalayan Cataract Project with the aim of providing access to high-quality eye care in Nepal. As writer Emma Hiolski explains:

At the time, 1 percent of the Nepalese population was blind. Cataracts caused 70 percent of unnecessary blindness, says Tabin, and there was an estimated backlog of 255,000 surgeries.


Since the Himalayan Cataract Project’s founding, its doctors have performed over 600,000 surgeries in 16 countries. Thanks to Ruit’s surgical and lens-implant innovations, cataract replacement surgeries take 10 minutes and cost $25. Today, the blindness rate in Nepal is 0.24 percent, Tabin says, comparable to that of Western countries.

But the doctors' work didn't stop in the Himalayas: They're now developing training programs for doctors in sub-Saharan Africa.

Previously: Stanford Medicine magazine reports on the future of vision, A "cure" for blindness? Treat poverty & improve access to care and A quest to cure the world's blind
Photo courtesy of Michael Amendolia & Himalayan Cataract Project

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