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Himalayan Cataract Project E-News: April 2012

Here you will find news on the latest international eye care activities from the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP). This month’s newsletter includes summaries on the following:

HCP in the Himalayas

  • Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin in Nepal for Refractive Surgery Unit Opening at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology and visit to Geta Hospital
  • Sub-specialty training and equipment in Bhutan

Upcoming Events in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Major surgical intervention and research effort in northern Ethiopia
  • New Eye Center in Ghana – Soft opening and Ghana Ophthalmology Society meeting


  • Dr. Ruit receives award at APAO in South Korea
  • Dr. Tabin interviewed by CNN on work in South Sudan
  • Documentary project on corneal blindness in Nepal featured on Kickstarter
  • HCP Friend Dr. Michael Lewis displays photographs of Ghanaian Villager at exhibit in Chicago
  • HCP represented at ASCRS

The Refractive Surgery Unit in Nepal is officially open

On April 7th, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology officially inaugurated its new Refractive Surgery Unit offering affordable new laser technology to treat patients with refractive error. The unit is off to a good start with seven surgeries per day booked for over two months. Dr. Sanduk Ruit, HCP Co-Director and Tilganga’s Medical Director hopes that the new Unit will attract patients from India, Tibet, Bhutan, and the Middle East. HCP Advisory Board Member Dr. Dan Reinstein was also in attendance representing the London Vision Clinic Foundation, a London-based foundation that partnered with HCP on the project and generously provided the lasers.

Read more about Humanitarian Laser in the local Nepali papers: Kathmandu Post & Republica [PDF, 2Mb].

Refractive Surgery Unit inauguration.

In the photo above, Mrs. Krishna Tamarkar, Master of Ceremonies, addresses the crowd. HCP Co-Director Dr. Tabin and Tilganga’s Dr. Kishore are in the background. Seated in the first row (left to right): Dr. Dan Reinstein (London Vision Clinic Foundation); Ms. Sanda Steimer, Director, USAID; Mr. Shurid Ghimire, Chairman, Nepal Eye Program; Ms. Susan Grace, the Australian Ambassador.

HCP Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin attended the RSU Opening, thanking USAID/ASHA for its support developing the renovations to the old building to accommodate the new state of the art facility. Prior to the Opening, Dr. Tabin spent a week teaching corneal and cataract surgery in the Far West Region of Nepal at Geta Eye Hospital alongside HCP Partner Dr. Bidhya Pant, Geta’s Medical Director. Geta Eye Hospital is one of the highest volume cataract surgery centers in the Far West Region and neighboring Northern India, providing more than 30,000 surgeries annually. Remote villages of the hilly districts are quite far away, and it takes one to five days to walk from the nearest road. During his stay at Geta, Dr. Tabin performed more than 100 cataract operations in one day — a new personal best.  

Sub-specialty training and equipment in Bhutan

Dr. Daniel J. Karr of the Casey Eye Institute and Oregon Health and Science University traveled to Bhutan to work with the country’s first pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Dechen Wangmo. Together, they spent two days operating focused on complicated strabismus procedures and three days seeing patients in clinic.

Since 2000, HCP has supported sub-specialty training for eight Bhutanese ophthalmologists and dozens of paramedical staff in addition to providing over 7,000 sight-restoring eye surgeries and distributing over 10,000 pairs of reading glasses as part of an ongoing partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan. HCP just provided Dr. Bhim Rai, Bhutan’s first vitreo-retina specialist who finished a 15-month fellowship in December, with specialized equipment for the new vitreo-retina practice at the National Hospital in Thimpu.

Drs. Dechen Wangmo, Tenzing, Kunzang Getshen (Medical Director / Chairman) and Daniel Karr.
Drs. Dechen Wangmo and Karr in clinic. Photos courtesy of Dr. Karr.

Upcoming Events in Sub-Saharan Africa

Major surgical intervention and research effort in northern Ethiopia

Drs. Ruit, Tabin and Oliva are traveling to Ethiopia this week to participate in a surgical intervention in Woldiya that will provide approximately 1,000 cataract surgeries, primarily to bilaterally blind patients. The surgical intervention is part of a study that HCP has commissioned with the RAND Corporation to assess the costs of blindness and the economic impact of cataract surgery. See additional details in HCP’s March newsletter.

New Eye Center in Ghana – Soft opening and Ghana Ophthalmology Society meeting

The new surgical eye center at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) will have a soft opening in mid-May. HCP has been working since 2007 to establish this center of excellence for West Africa in collaboration with USAID/ASHA. In conjunction with the soft opening, the Ghana Ophthalmology Society will meet in Kumasi with guests from HCP, the Moran Eye Center and other NGOs working toward improving eye care in Ghana and throughout west Africa.

More progress at KATH in Ghana.
More progress at KATH in Ghana.
More progress at KATH in Ghana.


Dr. Ruit Receives Arthur Lim Award at APAO in South Korea

Dr. Sanduk Ruit received the Arthur Lim Award at the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in South Korea. The Arthur Lim Award recognizes ophthalmologists who have exhibited exemplary leadership in ophthalmology, leading to substantial improvements in ophthalmic teaching and training in their region and beyond. At the meeting, Dr. Ruit delivered a lecture titled “Global Perspective of cataract blindness: Our experience of quality cataract surgery in community.” Read more about the event and Dr. Ruit’s award  [PDF, 1.7Mb].

Dr. Tabin interviewed by CNN about work in South Sudan

Dr. Geoff Tabin on CNN.
Dr. Geoff Tabin and photos of eye patients on CNN.

In late-March, CNN’s Monita Rajpal interviewed Dr. Geoff Tabin about his international work and recent eye care workshop in South Sudan during which eye care was provided to approximately 400 patients in Duk County, South Sudan. Unfortunately, just a few weeks after the workshop, violence returned to the village.

Watch the interview on HCP’s website.

Documentary project on corneal blindness in Nepal featured on Kickstarter

A young eye patient as seen in the video.
A young eye patient as seen in the video.

Photographer and filmmaker Joel Addams is midway through a documentary project focused on addressing corneal blindness in Nepal. He spent time at Tilganga with the corneal service in 2011 and produced a beautiful trailer for the documentary that was highlighted recently on Kickstarter with hopes of raising funds to finish the project. Although he did not raise enough funds through Kickstarter, he is still working to seek funding and finish the project. Watch the trailer to get a sense of the efforts at Tilganga to address corneal blindness.

HCP Friend Dr. Michael Lewis’ photographs showcased in Chicago

Dr. Michael Lewis displays his favorite photos.
Dr. Michael Lewis displays his favorite photos. Photo courtesy of The Chicagoist.

At a recent art exhibition, Dr. Michael Lewis, a longtime HCP supporter, friend, writer and photographer, displayed before and after photos of a Ghanaian villager whose sight had been restored by Dr. Tabin in 2007. The villager had been blind since childhood. “I had tears of joy in my eyes while taking the pictures,” Lewis recalls.

Read more about the photography in The Chicagoist.

HCP represented at ASCRS

Geoff Tabin introduces Dr. Olson before the lecture. Dr. Chang is to the right.

HCP Board Member Dr. Randall Olson was selected to deliver the prestigious Binkhorst Lecture at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Symposium in Chicago. His lecture was titledWhere Are We on the Road to Optical Perfection.” See a news clip about Dr. Olson, here  [PDF, 777Kb].

HCP Advisory Board Member Dr. David Chang was welcomed as the next President of ASCRS. He is seen on the left of this image [PDF, 630Kb], with Dr. Reinstein on the right.

Congratulations to Dr. Olson and to Dr. Chang!

HPC Fellow Dr. Bhim Rai of Bhutan with a patient.
HPC Fellow Dr. Bhim Rai of Bhutan with a patient.

The Himalayan Cataract Project works to eradicate preventable and curable blindness through high quality ophthalmic care, education and the establishment of a world-class eye care infrastructure.

Please visit our Web site at to keep up with the latest HCP news. There you will also find information on HCP’s finances, its founders, staff and board members, and ways that you can give the gift of sight.

Remember, through the Himalayan Cataract Project it takes a gift of only $20 to provide life-changing cataract surgery to someone struggling with blindness in the developing world.