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Curing blindness, restoring lives

People travel for days for help from a Nepalese master surgeon who pioneered an assembly-line technique that has restored the eyesight of millions.

Raj Kaliya Dhanuk, blind in both eyes from cataracts, waits at a consultation room in mid-February at the Hetauda community eye hospital, Hetauda, about 40 kilometers (18 miles) south of Katmandu, Nepal. Dhanuk and more than 500 others, most of whom have never seen a doctor before, have traveled for days by bicycle, motorbike, bus and even on their relatives' backs to reach Dr. Sanduk Ruit's mobile eye camp. Nepalese master surgeon Ruit estimates sight has been restored to 3-4 million people through his assembly-line approach.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

A woman suffering from blindness walks out of the changing room as others sit on a bench holding their diagnosis papers in hand waiting to enter the anesthesia section at Hetauda community eye hospital, Hetauda, about 40 kilometers (18 miles) south of Katmandu, Nepal. Once condemned by the international medical community as unthinkable and reckless, this mass surgery 'in the bush' started spreading from Nepal to poor countries worldwide nearly two decades ago.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

A Nepalese woman suffering from blindness sits in the sun to keep her self warm as she waits to enter the anesthesia section at Hetauda community eye hospital.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Raj Kaliya Dhanuk lies still on a bed with weights on her eye after receiving local anesthesia.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

A medical person injects anesthesia to Raj Kaliya Dhanuk ahead of a cataract operation.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Patients with eye patches and bandages sleep on the floor of a small room filled with blankets at Hetauda community eye hospital.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Patients with eye patches walk past a massive tent at Hetauda community eye hospital, Hetauda, about 40 kilometers (18 miles) south of Katmandu, Nepal.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

A patient waits for her eye patches to be removed.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Patients wait for their eye patches to be removed at Hetauda community eye hospital.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Dhari Maya Pandey reacts to light as her eye patches are removed.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

Raj Kaliya Dhanuk reaches to squeeze the nose of doctor Sanduk Ruit to prove that she can see just after her eye patches are removed at Hetauda community eye hospital, Hetauda, about 40 kilometers (18 miles) south of Katmandu, Nepal.

Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP