Sanduk Ruit

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Sanduk Ruit
Sanduk Ruit Erudite Conclave Medical College Trivandrum.JPG
Born 1955 (age 62–63)
Olangchung Gola, Taplejung District, Nepal
Residence Kathmandu, Nepal
Nationality Nepali
Occupation Ophthalmologist, eye surgeon
Spouse(s) Nanda Ruit
Children 3

Dr. Sanduk Ruit (Nepali सन्दुक रुइत ) is an eye surgeon from Nepal who has restored the sight of over 100,000 people across Africa and Asia using small-incision cataract surgery.[1] He is also one of the founders of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.[2]

Early life and education

Ruit was born in 1955 to uneducated parents in the remote Olangchung Gola Pass in Taplejung District of northeast Nepal, a mountainous area. The nearest school was eleven days' walk from his village.[3] However, his father, a small-time businessman, placed a priority on providing education to his children, and sent Ruit to St Robert's School in Darjeeling and provided financial support for his early medical career. Ruit was motivated to practice medicine partly by the death of his sister from tuberculosis.[1]

In 1969, Ruit graduated from Siddhartha Vanasthali School in Kathmandu, Nepal,[citation needed] and later was further educated in India, He studied MBBS from King George's Medical College, Lucknow from 1972 to 1976, further studies from 1981 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.[citation needed] He also studied in the Netherlands, Australia, and the United States, and was mentored by Australian ophthalmologist Professor Fred Hollows.[3]


Working in Australia in 1986, Ruit and Fred Hollows developed a strategy for using inexpensive intraocular lenses to bring small-incision cataract surgery to the developing world.[4] However, the lenses remained too expensive for many cataract patients. In 1995 Ruit developed a new intraocular lens that could be produced far more cheaply and which, as of 2010, is used in over 60 countries.[4] Ruit's method is now taught in U.S. medical schools.[2] Despite being far cheaper, Ruit's method has the same success rate as western techniques: 98% at six months.[2]

In 1994[5] Ruit and Fred Hollows founded the Tilganga Eye Center, now called the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, in Kathmandu.[6] Tilganga has performed over 90,000 operations and trained over 500 medical personnel from around the world, and produces Ruit's intraocular lenses at a cost of less than US$5 each.[3] It also produces prosthetic eyes for US$3, compared to imports that cost $150.[2] For those unable to reach the Center, or who live in otherwise isolated rural areas, Ruit and his team set up mobile eye camps, often using tents, classrooms, and even animal stables as makeshift operating rooms.[1]

After treating a North Korean diplomat in Kathmandu, Ruit persuaded North Korean authorities to let him visit in 2006.[1] There he conducted surgery on 1000 patients[citation needed] and trained many local surgeons.[1]

Ruit credits his wife, an ophthalmic nurse he married in 1987, as being a pillar of strength to him in his difficult days while pursuing Tilganga.[7]


A 2006 National Geographic documentary Inside North Korea documented not only Ruit's surgery in the highly controlled country, but also the resulting overt adulation by the patients given to the then-Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong-il.

Ruit's work in Nepal featured in Episode 5 (Mountains – Life in Thin Air) of the 2010 BBC documentary series Human Planet.[8]

Out of the Darkness, a 2011 film by Italian director Stefano Levi, documents Ruit's work in remote Northern Nepal.[9]

In 2015 Ruit and his work featured in a New York Times op-ed by Nicholas Kristof: "In 5 Minutes, He Lets the Blind See". The article was based on reporting in Nepal by Kristof and Austin Meyer, a graduate journalism student at Stanford University, during the trip with the winner of the 2015 New York Times Win a Trip with Nick Kristof contest.[2]


In May 2007, Ruit was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, "for service to humanity by establishing eye care services in Nepal and surrounding countries, and for his work in teaching and training surgeons, and technical innovation".[10] In June 2006, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award.[11] On December 17, 2015, he was appointed Member of the National Order of Merit of Bhutan [in Gold].[12]

In 2018, Government of India honoured with Padma Shri.[13]

See also

External links

  • Official website
  • A New Vision
  • Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology
  • God of Sight
  • The Fred Hollows Foundation


  1. ^ a b c d e "Sight for sore eyes: 'Maverick' doctor who restored the vision of 100,000 people". CNN. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Nicholas Kristof (November 7, 2015). "In 5 Minutes, He Lets the Blind See". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  3. ^ a b c "Sanduk Ruit: Everyone Deserves Good Vision". Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. July 25, 2016. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Surgeon brings innovative techniques to ophthalmologists worldwide". Ocular Surgery News. June 1, 2010. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  5. ^ "Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology". Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. Retrieved 2017-10-06. 
  6. ^ "Sight restored to 187 people in remote Nepal". The Fred Hollows Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  7. ^ "Bringing Sight To Millions". Nepal Republic Media. April 24, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Australian charity ending avoidable blindness". The Fred Hollows Foundation. Retrieved 2017-10-26. 
  9. ^ "Out of the Darkness". Archived from the original on 2017-06-26. 
  10. ^ "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours". Retrieved 2017-10-26. 
  11. ^ "The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation • Honoring greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia". Retrieved 2017-10-26. 
  12. ^ "His Majesty awards National Order of Merit - BBS". December 17, 2015. Retrieved 2017-10-26. 
  13. ^ "These Are The Unsung Heroes In The 2018 Padma Shri Awards List". Retrieved 2018-01-25. 
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