We believe that everyone should have access to doctors and eye exams in order to maintain healthy vision and prevent blindness. Sadly, there are many locations around the world where vision disorders and blindness are a huge problem among the population and the ability to receive proper treatment is not always an option.
As part of our commitment to help create and maintain strong, healthy communities, Optos is proud to support organizations that provide medical assistance to some of the most under-served populations around the world. One such organization is the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP).
The HCP was founded in 1995 by Drs. Sanduk Ruit and Geoff Tabin, a pair of ophthalmologists that shared an ambition to eliminate as much unnecessary blindness as they could during their lifetimes. The organization is rooted in the Tilganga Eye Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal – the first outpatient cataract surgery facility of its kind in the Himalayan region. The Himalayan region, as Dr. Tabin says, is an area where blindness has long been viewed as a death sentence: “People long thought that as you grow old, your hair turns white, your eyes turn white and you die.”
Drs. Tabin and Ruit realized that proper training was a necessity for doctors serving this region. Through the HCP, they have trained over 100 doctors in modern cataract surgery, as well as over 100 ophthalmic assistants and nurses. They have also proved to medical personnel in this region that eye care that is equal to hospital-based care can be provided through rural outreach eye camps.
Another key step in reaching patients of the Himalayan region was to make eye care affordable. In the early 1990s, intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery cost about $100 (U.S.), making this procedure too costly for poor patients. Through research, Dr. Ruit’s determined that the true cost of these lenses was only 60 cents (U.S.) – quite a large margin of profit for the manufacturers of these lenses. Dr. Ruit, with assistance from another foundation, went on to form a lens factory in Nepal where high quality lenses were produced for a fraction of the cost.
Thanks to the foundation of the HCP, patients in the Himalayan region suffering from cataracts can now find affordable, quality medical care. Every year, more than 200,000 patients receive screening and between 12,000 and 15,000 cataract surgeries are performed. And this was all made possible due to the hard work and perseverance of Drs. Tabin and Ruit.
Optos is proud to support the efforts of the Himalayan Cataract Project as its mission falls in line with our drive to create innovative technology for preventive eye care screenings that can help save sight and lives. To learn more about the HCP, visit Cureblindness.org or follow the Himalayan Cataract Project on Facebook.