Since March 2021, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation have been travelling to isolated and remote areas to cure people of needless cataract blindness. Less than two years later, the 30,000th patient has been cured.
It has been shown that needless blindness is both a cause and effect of poverty. When someone begins to lose sight, they are unable to work and earn a living. On top of this, living in impoverished areas and lacking access to vital healthcare also can impact cataracts leading to permanent blindness.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation Mission
This leads to a high dependence on family members who also often have to give up work and lose income. There is a severe knock-on effect on families and entire communities. This is why NGOs such as the Himalayan Cataract Project and the Fred Hollows Foundation share our goal of curing needless blindness across the developing world. Intervention can change an individual’s entire life.
Over the last month, teams have been hard at work in Bahjang District, Nepal. Bahjang is in several remote areas of Nepal and contains just one Ophthamologic assistant Khadak Bhatta. He works out of the community eye centre and receives around 300 patients every month. Most eye issues are related to refractive errors, however, the second most common issue is cataracts. With no surgeon at the eye centre, Khadak Bhatta has no choice but to refer patients to Dhangadi which is a 12-hour journey.
Families across Bahjang are hit with several challenges. Due to living in such a marginalised and isolated area, most families do not have access to a high-income meaning if struck with something like cataracts. They are unable to pay for the journey to Dhangadi or pay for the surgery itself.
During this camp, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation worked in collaboration with the Geta Eye Hospital.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation was joined by Sahana Bajracharya. Sahana lives a versatile career in the Nepali media industry. In 2010, Sahana was crowned Miss Nepal Earth. She utilized her reign advocating against the ‘Chaupadi’ issue in the Far-Western region of Nepal. The genre of her television career includes lifestyle, politics, LIVE TV, and as recently, as one of the few sports presenters in Nepal. Sahana also produced and hosted the popular LIVE Show, Namaste TV Show on Nepal Television. The show was recorded as the fourth most-viewed show in Nepal.
Sahana and her team documented their visit to the far west of Nepal and met patient Belmati Demai. 60-year-old Belmati was suffering from bilateral cataracts and had struggled to see for over three years. She was heavily reliant on her husband who carried her for hours to reach the camp.
Belmati had her eyes screened by Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation teams at the camp and it was decided she needed to stay an extra day to have both her eyes cured. Her husband grew concerned as he had only enough money and food to last one day. After some discussion with the teams, it was decided that both would remain at the camp.
After Belmati had her surgery she sat eagerly awaiting the removal of her eye patches. Alongside 252 other patients, it was finally revealed that Belmati could see again. The room filled with joy as patients realised they had their sight back. It was a start of a new life for all 252 patients.
The goal of Tej Kohli and Dr Ruit is to make cataract surgery affordable and accessible to all. The pair also plan to introduce their intervention to other parts of the developing world. As of February 2023, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation have cured 30,123 patients of needless cataract blindness in Nepal, Bhutan and Ghana.
To find out more about Tej Kohli & Dr Sanduk Ruit’s intervention into cataract blindness across the developing world visit our medium blog.