An ophthalmologist is taking his healing hands worldwide. Dr. Geoffrey Tabin of Park City, Utah is traveling around the world with one goal: to eradicate acquired blindness. Tabin travels throughout the developing world, performing a surgery he and his mentor perfected. The surgery requires a quick incision to remove cataracts and takes about seven minutes on average to perform. His method allows for the bandages to be removed the very next day.
ABC News followed Tabin to Mekelle, Ethiopia, where cataract blindness is an epidemic, and he operated on hundreds of blind locals. The simple cataract surgery is not only performed quickly, but also inexpensively. The cost of the lens placed in the person’s eye after cataract removal is only $11. When Tabin and the news team arrived at the Quiha Zonal Hospital in Mekelle, there were nearly a thousand patients lined up for the chance to see him and be approved for surgery. Tabin tells ABC that because of the large amount of patients, he will spend three days, “performing one surgery every seven or eight minutes.” Patients have travelled from all over Ethiopia, most of them on foot, after hearing that he would be offering free surgery.
Tabin is often greeted by hundreds of patients and told ABC that the amount of people seeking help is, “Daunting, but also exciting. You know, when I’m operating, every single eye is a life.” He has impacted thousands of lives through the Himalayan Cataract Project whose main priority is to reach the greatest number of unserved blind people. Tabin and his mentor, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, are its founding directors. In addition to performing thousands of surgeries, Tabin trains local ophthalmologists to ensure that many more lives are restored after he moves on to his next location.
The Himalayan Cataract Project has helped people in Bhutan, India, Kenya, North Korea, and China, among other places. In many occasions, Tabin and his team must hike to their destination and carry their own equipment to set up sterilized operating rooms anywhere they can. They have previously set up their clinic in abandoned school houses and say that the quality of their services and results do not suffer because of their unconventional locations. Tabin continues his work and wants to cure as much preventable blindness as he can in his lifetime.