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Himalayan Cataract Project E-News: March 2011

Here you will find news on our latest international eye care activities. This month’s newsletter includes:

  • Cataract workshops in Mangarh, India
  • Hetauda organizes new screening camps
  • HCP represented at Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress
  • Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin receives award from his alma mater
  • HCP partner SightLife featured on NPR
  • Upcoming HCP events

Cataract workshops in Mangarh, India

Dr. Paudel performing surgery.

Dr. Govinda Paudel and a team from Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology managed a cataract workshop in Uttar Pradesh (UP) — one of the most remote locations in India — in conjunction with the Jagadguru Kripalu Charity Hospital. A total of 702 cataract surgeries were provided. Dr. Paudel commented on the overwhelming number of people in need of cataract surgery in this region, the majority of whom cannot access or afford care. He emphasized the importance of this program that provides high-quality care free of charge. The HCP has supported work in the UP since 2007 and each year the number of cataract surgeries provided at the outreach workshops has increased.

Hetauda organizes new screening camps

Eye screening programs in rural southern Nepal.
HCEH staff members assess vision at the screening.
An 80-year-old blind patient was carried by his son for hours to attend.

The Hetauda Community Eye Hospital organized two screening programs in the rural villages of the Makawanpur district in southern Nepal. In both instances, it was the first eye care screening to ever take place in the village.

In the village of Epa, 208 patients were screened and 27 cataract cases were identified. In the village of Bharta, 148 patients were screened and 12 cataract cases were identified.

With support from the HCP, the Hetauda Community Eye Hospital is able to provide free cataract surgery to those that cannot afford it. Patients from village screenings are transported to the hospital for surgery and then returned to their village.


HCP represented at Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress

Dr. Matt Oliva leads a panel discussion.
Dr. Matt Oliva, an HCP board member, leads a panel discussion.
HCP board members and staff gathered at the home of Gabi Hollows, Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation. Pictured here, Drs. Sanduk Ruit and Matt Oliva.

The Himalayan Cataract Project joined partners from the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology and The Fred Hollows Foundation in Sydney, Australia, at the Asian Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) Congress.

As part of the APAO, Board Member Dr. Matt Oliva facilitated a panel entitled “In the Era of Phaco – Why SICS (small incision cataract surgery)?” The panel featured presentations from HCP Co-Director Dr. Sanduk Ruit, HCP partner Dr. Dennis Lam of Project Vision, and Dr. Abhay Vasavada from the Iladevi Cataract & IOL Research Centre, Raghudeep Eye Clinic, Ahmedabad, India.

SICS (small incision cataract surgery) is the way cataract surgery is done in much of Nepal, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The technique is well suited for the developing world as it’s not dependent on machines and you get almost the same result as phaco but in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Some of the best minds in the world are looking at how we can improve cataract surgery without machines, and how this surgery can be available for some of the poorest people on the planet.

Following the Congress, HCP board members and staff joined partners from Tilganga and Fred Hollows to discuss current programs and strategize on upcoming joint initiatives in Nepal and throughout the developing world.

Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin receives award from his alma mater

Dr. Geoff Tabin was honored with the 2011 New Trier Alumni Achievement Award as part of the inaugural class of 10 outstanding alums from New Trier, one of the largest public high schools in Chicago with over 100,000 graduates.

Dr. Geoff Tabin with other award recipients.
Dr. Geoff Tabin (second from right) at the event.
Dr. Geoff Tabin with other award recipients.
Tabin pictured with other award recipients.

HCP partner SightLife featured on NPR

SightLife logo

Tim Schottman, the senior vice president for global programs at SightLife, was featured in an NPR news story on March 8. HCP and SightLife work together to improve cornea care. SightLife develops the local capacity to capture cornea tissue through the establishment of eye banks, while HCP develops the surgical capacity to utilize the cornea tissue. HCP has partnered with SightLife and Tilganga to strengthen eye banking in Nepal. In addition, over the past year, HCP-trained doctors have transplanted corneas supplied by SightLife in Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya. Listen to the news story on the NPR website.

Upcoming HCP events

Dr. Geoff Tabin has been named as a speaker and guest for the 2011 Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, CO. The theme of this year’s festival is Awareness into Action, and Festival Director David Holbrooke said they sought out special guests with that in mind. The festival will take place from May 27 - 30. To learn more about Mountainfilm, visit

HCP has become a charity sponsor of the San Francisco Marathon to raise awareness of preventable blindness in the developing world and is currently recruiting runners interested in joining our team. Full and half marathon slots are available. The marathon is Sunday, July 31. If you are interested, please email HCP Project Manager Pam Clapp at pclapp@[remove this text]

Dr. Geoff Tabin will be the keynote speaker at a fundraising event in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, September 10. HCP partner University of Nebraska Medical Center will host a Night for Sight event to raise awareness and funds for blindness prevention and alleviation in the developing world.

An eye patient in Malawi.
An eye patient in Malawi.

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.