A Story Of Hope, Innovation, And Making The Blind See: David Oliver Relin’s Second Suns
As many of our patients know, one of London Vision Clinic’s proudest achievements was establishing the Refractive Surgery Unit, a satellite of the London Vision Clinic Foundation, at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Nepal, where, in partnership with Tilganga and the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), we have begun to perform humanitarian Laser Surgery on patients whose lives and livelihoods literally depend upon it. Professor Reinstein firmly believes that the Himalayan Cataract Project is, and will continue to be, “one of the major contributors to the World Health Organisation 2020 initiative to eradicate preventable blindness”.
Published recently in June, David Oliver Relin’s insightful and inspirational book, Second Suns, charts the work of doctors Sanduk Ruit and Geoffrey Tabin, and their professional and humanitarian ambition to “eliminate all preventable and treatable blindness from the Himalayan region”, through founding the Himalayan Cataract Project in 1995 to support Tilganga. Ruit (of Nepal) and Tabin (of the United States) recognised the profound humanitarian implications of curing those people in the developing world who are blind as a result of poverty and inadequate access to treatment, and combined their expertise to work towards a shared goal of confronting and preventing such unnecessary tragedies. Together, they have performed cataract surgeries on hundreds of thousands of patients, providing the same quality of care that can be found in the developed world.
As with the humanitarian Laser Eye Surgery carried out by London Vision Clinic Foundation at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, the cataract surgery is free to those who cannot afford to pay (with costs recovered from paying patients, as well as donations), and thus literally saves the lives of those people who would otherwise fall further into poverty, unable to work or to support their families. Ruit and Tabin often trek to remote areas of Nepal to provide care where patients are physically or financially incapable of reaching the hospital for treatment.
Second Suns tells the extraordinary story of two doctors’ journey towards this goal, and promises to be inspirational and educational reading. The Washington Post regarded is as “a compelling and inspiring book” and recalls the “multi-day treks up steep mountain trails, sometimes hiking at night with flashlights or head lamps, to reach settlements where they typically spend several days operating on hundreds of villagers in makeshift surgical theatres.”
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At London Vision Clinic, we share the Himalayan Cataract Project’s ambition to eradicate unnecessary and curable blindness, and whole-heartedly support the project of providing those in the developing world with realistic access to the same standards of technology and expertise that we are privileged to expect in the field of eye care.
Second Suns, by David Oliver Relin, was published by Random House in June 2013 and is available here.
To learn more about the Himalayan Cataract Project, visit www.cureblindness.org