62 cured of blindness in Nepal’s Manang District

Nestled in the heart of Nepal’s Annapurna region, the Manang district boasts unparalleled scenic beauty. Full of scattered villages dotted with small clusters of mud, stone and wood huts, many residents of Manang live beneath the shadow of the majestic Himalayas.

Sadly, within the rural villages, many live a life of curable blindness because they are either unaware of treatment and cannot access or afford surgery. Similar to many areas in the developing world, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. Manang saw the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation staged an outreach microsurgical eye camp in May, 2022 – screening 832 of the district’s 5,645 people, and curing 62 of blindness.

Although the camp dates were scheduled for 24th and 25th of May, 2022, work began at least a month ago. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, in collaboration with the local community eye centre and other members of the community, staged a total of 18 screening camps, some which had to be made via a two a day or two day’s walk due to the remoteness of the district. 

On 22nd May, a team from the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology working with the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation arrived in Manang for the scheduled camp. Co-founder of the foundation, led the team in successfully curing the community. 

On the 24th, 62 patients, all identified during the earlier screening camps, arrived at the camp. Dr Ruit cured the 62 of blindness by skillfully removing their cataracts and inserting a low cost intraocular lens that he developed, which took a mere seven minutes per patient.

The next day, Dr Ruit removed the eyepatches from the 62 patients – giving them a second chance to sight. Chete Gurung of Pisang, who had been living with cataracts for the past year, was elated to have been cured of blindness. She could not stop smiling as she took in the beauty of the landscape that surrounded her.

Read Chete Gurung’s story of freedom from blindness

Bis Man Gurung, a carpenter by profession, was stunned to have his vision back to normal. Talking to a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation team member, he said he was keen to resume his profession at his village.

Read Bis Man’s story to sight

Similarly, 11 patients of Nar Valley, who had made the long and tumultuous two day trek from their village, were also very happy. Having accepted blindness as their fate, they never would have thought that intervention would arrive in their village – leading them from a life of needless blindness to one which they can live a full life with full vision.

Read Nar Valley’s community story of needless blindness

Cataracts are the leading cause of needless blindness worldwide – accounting for more than 50% of the world’s blind. A majority of the world’s cataract blind people live in the developing world, and continue to live a life of needless blindness because they are unable to afford or access surgery.

A cataract surgery can cost as little as $50, and studies have shown that investment in cataract surgeries outweighs the cost, in  terms of economic productivity,  within the first year. Investment in curing needless blindness has the potential to lead communities out of extreme poverty, and it is with this vision, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation continues on its mission to cure the developing world’s needless blind. 

As of May, 2022, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation has cured 16, 721 of needless blindness in the developing world.