Several diseases that plague impoverished populations in the developing world are either preventable or treatable. Cataracts are one such example. The common eye disease, which clouds up a person’s vision due to a build-up on the lens, can be easily treated in less than an hour by an ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, this relatively straightforward procedure is much too expensive for some in many parts of the world. For a disease with such a simple solution, the impact can be devastating as people struggle to maintain their independence and work to provide for their families.
The Himalayan Cataract Project Brings A Life Changing Surgical Method To Other Parts Of The World
Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepalese eye doctor, has received international recognition for his development and use of a cheaper method of cataract surgery that allows him to perform the procedure on Nepal’s poorest citizens. As the New York Times reported, his cataract surgery technique costs only $25 and is almost always successful. At first, news of his method was met with scorn and skepticism by critics until a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology found that his technique resulted in the same outcome as machines commonly used for cataract surgeries in the West – about 98 percent success. In fact, with the same results, Dr. Ruit’s method was cheaper.
An eye specialist from the University of Utah, Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, who spoke to the New York Times, explained that even in the United States when the latest machinery cannot be used for cataract surgery, the manual procedure used by American doctors is inferior to the technique used by Dr. Sanduk Ruit.
Such a surgery has the power to dramatically change the lives of many individuals. The procedure may be simple, but without it individuals are forced to cope with a life of no vision. Dr. Tabin has spearheaded an effort to bring Dr. Ruit’s cataract surgery technique to other parts of the world where there are populations that also cannot afford more expensive methods. Dr. Tabin leads the initiative, called the Himalayan Cataract Project, and helps take Dr. Ruit’s method to other countries.
Cataracts Are Preventable and Cause Over Half of The World’s Cases of Blindness
Cataracts are included as one of the World Health Organization’s priority eye diseases. Recent numbers demonstrate that cataracts account for 51 percent of the world’s cases of blindness– that’s roughly 20 million people. What’s more, the World Health Organization rightly points out that as the world’s population starts living longer and longer, the number of cases will only continue to grow.
Here in the United States there are an estimated 22.3 million Americans who have cataracts, according to the Prevent Blindness organization. Prevent Blindness notes that more than half of Americans develop cataracts by the time they reach the age of 80. In some cases, young people and newborns can also develop cataracts. The overarching message is to see an eyecare professional for regular eye exams to spot small issues before they become large problems.
Washington Eye is privileged to count many skilled and talented professionals among its staff. Stop by one of ourlocations in Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, or Washington D.C. today to book an eye exam and be proactive about your eye health. If you think you are developing cataracts, a trained ophthalmologist at one of our offices in Maryland or D.C will walk you through the cataract surgery procedure that will have you seeing clearly in no time.