Illuminating Lives: Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation's Daring Mission to End Cataract Blindness

Illuminating Lives: Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation’s Daring Mission to End Cataract Blindness

Illuminating Lives: Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation’s Daring Mission to End Cataract Blindness

Cataract, a common eye ailment characterized by clouding of the lens, have thrown a pall over the lives of countless. Aging, diabetes, UV exposure, and other factors all contribute to its growth.

Cataracts affect 50% of the world’s estimated 40 million blind individuals, with 90% of them living in developing countries where accessible and inexpensive treatment remains a distant dream.

The Scale of Cataract-Induced Blindness

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, cataracts have left 100 million individuals with significant visual impairment or complete blindness, with around 5 million new cases appearing each year.

This dilemma impacts distant and economically disadvantaged places disproportionately since access to adequate medical care is a luxury in such regions.

Gender Inequality: The Unspoken Aggressor

Gender disparity is one of the most serious obstacles in the struggle against cataract blindness. Women, who account for 64.5% of all cataract cases, face significant impediments to treatment.

Women in underprivileged nations are discouraged from getting eye care due to low literacy rates, cultural roles, and a lack of autonomy. Fortunately, globally acclaimed NGOs are addressing this issue and aiming to break down these barriers by helping restore their sight.

Economic Disadvantage: A Catch-22 Situation

Blindness frequently results in unemployment and financial difficulty for those who suffer from it. Caretakers, who are often family members, frequently forego paid jobs to support their blind relatives, perpetuating the poverty cycle.

According to a study published in The Lancet, investing in cataract surgery can enhance a patient’s economic productivity by up to 1,500%, providing a ray of hope for economic empowerment. The study further reiterated that future endeavors in this regard should be made keeping in view the easy availability and quality of the surgery in developing countries.

The Heartbreaking Reality of Social Exclusion

Blind people confront not only physical difficulties but also social marginalization. They are frequently marginalized within the communities they live in, unable to participate in everyday activities or celebrate holidays. This seclusion extends to children who have to look after their blind parents, forcing them to skip school.

Noble Endeavour of Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation

The world witnessed the birth of a ground-breaking effort in March 2021, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, a dynamic cooperation between philanthropist Tej Kohli and renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Sanduk Ruit, founded with an incredible mission in view: to fight cataract blindness on an international level.

The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation confronts these concerns head-on by organizing ‘microsurgical outreach camps’ in areas with a high prevalence of visual impairment. The foundation has successfully organized over 108 microsurgical camps in Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Ghana through cooperation with national and local governments, local and regional hospitals, eye care centers, surgeons, and interpreters.

One Surgery at a Time: A Mantra to Change Lives

The foundation performs cataract procedures that change people’s lives for as little as $50 per patient and only seven minutes in the operating room. This is a tiny percentage of the average cost, which runs between $3,000 and $5,000 in various regions of the world.

Something astonishing occurs every day in the most distant regions of the globe: 300–600 free cataract operations are carried out by surgeons who are motivated by compassion and passion. The NGO’s microsurgical camps provide comprehensive care, with biometric rooms, operation theatres, and post-op wards developed by co-founder Dr. Sanduk Ruit.

This incredible achievement is made possible by the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, whose inventive and economical approach to eye care is nothing short of revolutionary.

Comprehensive Postoperative Care After Surgery

Their mission, however, does not finish in the operating room. Patients get full assistance following surgery, which includes observation, lodging, meals for an overnight stay, medication, postoperative care instruction.

The local hospital collaborates in this venture by offering one-week and one-month check-ups. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation goes above and beyond. They follow up with patients six to twelve months following surgery to determine the long-term impact on their quality of life.

A Worldwide Call to Action

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’ strategy goal for the next decade, 2030 In Sight, beckons us all. It encourages people to recognize that vision is vital to economic and social development, and that fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is critical.

Month of Cataract Awareness: Illuminating Vision

Every June is recognized as ‘Cataract Awareness Month’, a time set aside to educate the public about cataracts, one of the main causes of vision impairment. For those who have the condition, it is extremely important to comprehend cataracts, their signs and symptoms, and the causes of the condition.

Visitors can learn more about cataracts and how to help those affected during this commemorative campaign ‘#2030InSight’. An impact can be made by raising awareness and information regarding visual health.

The Remarkable Journey

A whooping 13,659 cataract surgeries were performed by the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation in the first year itself and this is particularly astounding. This isn’t merely a number; it’s a monument of the power of hard work and dedication.

  • Shri Mani Rai’s Rise from Poverty to Prosperity

Shri Mani Rai of Solukhumbu, Nepal, lived in the remote Himalayan outback and faced treatable blindness with no access to surgery. The nearest eye hospital was over 15 hours away, and financial restraints prevented her from reaching there. She spent her days in the dark, unsure of her fate.

However, a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation screening team approached her in March 2021. One year later with her vision recovered, Shri Mani cultivates her own vegetable plot and sells vegetables at the local market. Her family is now free to handle their farm and poultry, and their lives have improved.

  • Shanti Maya Tamang’s Quest for Sight

Shanti Maya Tamang’s life was hampered by cataract blindness in the isolated village of Wana, Nepal. Shakti, her husband, seized the chance when a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation eye examination camp arrived nearby. They traveled to the camp, where medical professionals screened and performed procedures.

Shanti Maya’s operation was temporarily postponed due to an injury, but she underwent a 15-minute operation the next day with Dr. Sanduk Ruit. Shanti Maya reopened her eyes to a life she had yearned to see after removing her bandages. She was one of the 221 patients whose lives were changed by the activities of the foundation.

Enduring Impact of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation on Illuminating a Brighter Future

The work of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation is a beacon of hope, demonstrating the amazing impact that enthusiasm, inventiveness, and commitment can have on the global community.

With each surgery, they restore light to the lives of individuals and communities. Their efforts not only restore vision but also change how people view healthcare accessibility. It serves as a reminder that with one surgery at a time, a better world is no longer a dream.

References

  1. https://tejkohliruit.com/
  2. https://tejkohliruitfoundation.medium.com/
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/krisputnamwalkerly/2023/09/02/the-visionary-mission-of-philanthropist-tej-kohli-combating-cataract-blindness/?sh=37da2f7a1527
  4. https://www.iapb.org/learn/resources/2030-in-sight-strategy-document/
  5. https://www.iapb.org/learn/vision-atlas/

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