A Foundation partner who regularly leads expeditions to restore sight to thousands in remote corners of Nepal, has been honoured for outstanding work at a ceremony in Sydney.
Dr Reeta Gurung received a Distinguished Service Award from the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthamology for her contribution to eye health in Nepal
She is Deputy Medical Director at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, The Foundation’s long-term partner organisation in Nepal.
While working to restore sight in a remote town called Rolpa recently she told The Foundation she was inspired to become an ophthalmologist by a desire “to do things quickly and get the results very quickly”.
“That’s why cataract surgery appeals to me because literally the next day, most of the patients are happy and can see,” she said.
When Dr Gurung travels to outreach camps in remote villages in Nepal, she often needs to perform cataract surgery in makeshift hospitals, set up in rundown public buildings.
It's a humbling experience, “They’re the poorest of the poor," she said.
Often, people have walked for two days just to get to one of the outreach camps.
Those who are blinded by cataract may have been carried on the backs of their children to reach the community eye centres.
There are still 11 untouched districts in Nepal that Dr Reeta and her team hope to visit in the future to restore sight to those who have been living in the dark for many years.
“If you are blind, you really are quite isolated”, she said. “There is almost nothing besides the radio.
“If a patient can walk home because their vision is restored, then that’s the best thing you can ever do."
Dr Gurung received her award at the annual Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthamology Congress in Sydney, a meeting of 4,000 eye health professionals from 67 countries.
>Find out more about The Foundation's Nepal program.