Dr. Geoff Tabin — Co-Founder of Himalayan Cataract Project
Dr. Geoff Tabin, Co-Founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project, is Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Director of the Division of International Ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. Dr. Tabin spends a considerable part of the year working abroad, both in Nepal and throughout the Himalayas, as well as in Africa.
One of Geoff Tabin’s greatest passions, mountain climbing, directed him to his professional career. After summiting Mt. Everest, on one of his expeditions, he came across a Dutch team performing cataract surgery on a woman who had been needlessly blind for three years. It was then he understood his life calling.
Dr. Tabin came to realize that a multi-tiered approach was needed to solve the problem of blindness in the developing world. The approach he envisioned, and continues to build with Sanduk Ruit, includes:
- the creation of centers of excellence in ophthalmic service;
- the establishment of primary regional clinics staffed by physicians and mid-level health care providers specifically trained in eye care; and
- educating local doctors so these achievements belong to them.
Geoff Tabin is the fourth person in the world to reach the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. Tabin’s book “Blind Corners” was described by Sir Edmund Hillary as “an astonishing mixture of wild adventure and the overcoming of formidable challenges.” But as Tabin says, "My partner Dr. Sanduk Ruit and I have vowed to work to eliminate all preventable and treatable blindness from the Himalayan region in our lifetime, a goal more audacious than setting out to make the first assent of the East Face of Mount Everest.”
Dr. Tabin's Background
Tabin graduated from Yale University and then earned an MA in Philosophy at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. From there, he took his interest in moral philosophy and health care delivery to Harvard Medical School where he earned his MD in 1985. After completing an ophthalmology residency at Brown University and a fellowship in corneal surgery in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Tabin returned to Nepal to work with Dr. Sanduk Ruit. Dr. Tabin adopted Ruit’s methods for delivering high quality cataract surgery at a very low cost and began teaching other Nepali ophthalmologists while running the eye hospital in Biratnagar, Nepal’s second largest city.
Dr. Tabin is a leader in both the national and international ophthalmic community. He is a member of the International Education Committee for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and teaches a course on cataract surgery at both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.