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In 5 Minutes he lets the blind see

4 min read

Good Stuff
In 5 Minutes he lets the blind see
Source: None

Dr. Sanduk Ruit is an award-winning Nepali eye surgeon whose small-incision cataract surgery has enabled well over 100,000 poor cataract patients to regain their sight.

Dr. Sanduk Ruit has restored the vision of over 120,000 people

Meet Dr. Sanduk Ruit, an award-winning Nepali eye surgeon whose small-incision cataract surgery, which utilises inexpensive intraocular lenses, has enabled hundreds of thousands of poor cataract patients in Nepal and other countries to regain their sight. Over the last three decades, he has successfully treated over 120,000 people across the developing world, and has taught his technique to other eye surgeons.

Co-founder of the Himalayan cataract project The world has around 40m blind people, around 90% of them in the developing world. Much of this blindness treatable. Source: Facebook/Upworthy

Dr. Ruit can perform dozens of sight-saving cataract operations per day

Himalayan Cataract Project Co-Founder Dr. Sanduk Ruit’s soul mission has been, and continues to be, to bring eyesight back to anyone who needs it, regardless of his or her ability to pay — and to do so with pre- and post-operative care that rivals the highest quality healthcare throughout the world.

A masterful surgeon, he can perform dozens of flawless cataract operations at eye camps over the course of a 12-hour day. Working tirelessly at the operating table, he says “The surgical chair is the most comfortable place on Earth that I have.” 

Sanduk Ruit was born in Olangchungola, a remote village in Eastern Nepal — so remote the nearest school was a week’s walk away. And there were no health posts. Ruit’s sister died of tuberculosis when he was 17. This experience led him to become a doctor.


At first, skeptics denounced him: “When you are right no one can prove you wrong… I took proving myself right as a challenge and I succeeded.” – Dr. Sanduk Ruit Source:

The Problem and the Solution

The Problem: There are currently 285 million people who are visually impaired (can see less than 3 meters) of which, 39 million are completely blind. Ninety per cent of visually impaired and blind people live in developing countries, two-thirds of whom are women. In approximately 80% of cases, blindness and visual impairment are treatable. Unfortunately, millions of poor people in developing countries lack access to affordable eye-care.

The Solution: The Ruit Foundation serves to replicate and export the Community Eye Hospital model, developed by Dr Sanduk Ruit, one of the world’s most prolific eye surgeons. Three Community Eye Hospitals have already been established, and are operating independently, in Hetauda, Nepal, Kalimpong, India and Lhasa in China. The CEH model is proven to be replicable and scalable and to provide affordable, sustainable and effective eye-care to poor communities in low-resource setting.

Numerous studies have shown that sight restoration with cataract surgery is among the most cost-effective interventions in health care.
Dr. Ruit and some of his patients Numerous studies have shown that sight restoration with cataract surgery is among the most cost-effective interventions in health care. Source:

The cataract surgery can be performed in approximately five minutes

The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) works to overcome barriers impeding delivery of cataract care to underserved, needlessly blind people in the developing world. Their efforts are focused on eradicating preventable and curable blindness with a concurrent strategy to provide high-quality care, train local personnel and establish a world-class eye care infrastructure where most needed. They work with partners to establish and perfect methodologies optimised for the developing world. The cataract surgery can be performed in approximately five minutes, with limited inputs, minimal to no follow-up and extraordinary results. Their innovation rests in their delivery system, commitment to skills-transfer and ability to provide high-quality surgical care in remote settings, reaching patients who would never make it to a hospital.


Above/Before: Thuli Maya Thing was blind from cataracts when Dr. Sanduk Ruit examined her. After surgery she had 20/20 vision.
Below/After: Thuli Maya Thing and other Nepalis after their bandages were pulled off.
Above/Before: Thuli Maya Thing was blind from cataracts when Dr. Sanduk Ruit examined her. After surgery she had 20/20 vision.
Below/After: Thuli Maya Thing and other Nepalis after their bandages were pulled off. Source: None
Source: Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

Innovative eye-care model

At the core of the HCP’s success is its long-standing, trusted partnership with the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Together, HCP and Tilganga have dramatically improved eye care by creating a proven eye care model worthy of worldwide replication.HCP’s top priority is to reach the greatest number of unserved blind people, with the highest quality care at the lowest cost possible. To do this as effectively as possible, HCP focuses in three key areas to ensure outstanding service:

  • Direct service: High­-Volume Cataract Campaigns – The Himalayan Cataract Project has developed highly-efficient approaches in each of the critical areas of surgery, training, and education, so that its eye doctors and support teams can reach everyone – including the poor who often live in sparsely populated regions. For those who cannot reach urban areas, HCP, their eye care partners, and teams of local nurses and doctors conduct high-­volume cataract campaigns in remote areas of Southeast Asia and Sub­-Saharan Africa. During these campaigns hundreds of surgeries are performed each day.
  • Education and training: The Himalayan Cataract Project trains local eye care teams with methodologies optimised for the developing world. All training and education hinges on maximising the capacity of eye care staff at all levels. This allows for the expansion of efficient eye care delivery, an increased number of patients treated, and an increased number of trained eye care specialists who can then train future eye care providers. Underlying the varied work carried out by HCP and the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology is our belief that a sustainable health care system must function effectively over the long ­term with minimal external involvement. Thus, sustainable eye care requires local staffing of ophthalmologists, eye care workers, and administrators, and necessitates first­-rate training and education at all levels. A core feature of HCP’s training is to maximise the ability of mid­-level eye care workers (largely ophthalmic assistants) to deliver eye care more efficiently. Working closely with a variety of partners, HCP supports a full range of ophthalmic education – from the traditional rigorous training of surgeons to the intensive training of field workers that includes nurses, field staff and community leaders.
  • Infrastructure: The Himalayan Cataract Project is committed to building, provisioning, mentoring and staffing a diverse range of eye care facilities so that they are equipped to serve the blind and others who need eye care indefinitely. From community eye centres in rural areas staffed by ophthalmic assistants, to full specialty eye hospitals, HCP provides financial support and administrative assistance depending on the needs of the facility and region. Through our Technology and Procurement Program, we source and manage equipment and materials for HCP programs and those being carried out by other organisations. In any given year, the Technology and Procurement Program will provide millions of dollars worth of equipment and supplies to over 30 countries.


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Your donation to the Himalayan Cataract Project delivers immediate life-changing eye care to the poor and underserved populations that would otherwise go without.