Sanduk Ruit

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Sanduk Ruit
Sanduk Ruit Erudite Conclave Medical College Trivandrum.JPG
Dr. Sanduk Ruit
Born 1955 (age 61–62)
Olangchung Gola, Taplejung District, Nepal
Residence Kathmandu, Nepal
Nationality Nepali
Alma mater All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi
Occupation Ophthalmologist, eye surgeon
Spouse(s) Nanda Ruit
Children One son and two daughters

Dr. Sanduk Ruit (Nepali सन्दुक रुइत ) is an award-winning Nepali eye surgeon whose small-incision cataract surgery, which utilizes inexpensive intraocular lenses, has enabled hundreds of thousands of poor cataract patients in Nepal and other countries to regain their sight. Over the last three decades, he has successfully treated over 100,000 people across the developing world, and has taught his technique to other eye surgeons.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ruit was born in 1955 to uneducated parents in the remote Olangchungola Pass in Taplejung District of northeast Nepal, a mountain area of Nepal. The nearest school was eleven days away by foot in his village.[2] However, his father, a small-time businessman, placed a priority on providing education to his children, sending Sanduk to St Robert's School in Darjeeling and providing financial support to his early medical career. Ruit was motivated to practice medicine partly by the death of his sister from tuberculosis.[3]

In 1969, Ruit received his School Leaving Certificate from Siddhartha Vanasthali School in Kathmandu, Nepal, and later was educated in India beginning in 1981 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, and also studied in the Netherlands, Australia and the United States, and was mentored by an Australian Professor, Dr. Fred Hollows.

Major works[edit]

In 1986, Dr. Ruit and his team from Tilganga developed and simplified cataract surgery with lens implantation at the community level. The surgery was made simple, appropriate and affordable with good visual outcome. In mid 90's Dr. Ruit and his team further simplified and fine tuned the small incision cataract surgery (SICS) and made it available for the community. Also, at the same time, state of the art Intraocular lenses (IOL) was manufactured at Tilganga, Nepal, to be used at extremely affordable price with similar result and outcome. As a result, the cost of IOLs has declined considerably, from US$ 100 to less than US$ 3.5.


Ruit joined with a few people who shared his vision to start the Tilganga Eye Center[4] on June 7, 1994, but due to opposition by the establishment who considered the technique too risky, they virtually operated underground for six months. His efficient model of eye care is now practiced in many parts of the world, with U.S. military surgeons being scheduled to be trained under Ruit as well.[5] Ruit also credits his wife, an ophthalmic nurse whom he married in 1987, as being a pillar of strength to him in his difficult days while pursuing his dream project of Tilganga.[6]

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 utilizing tents, classrooms, and even animal stables to serve as makeshift operating rooms.[7] The hospital also produces the advanced lenses that are needed for treating cataracts or myopia, exporting them to more than 30 countries around the world.


A National Geographic documentary Inside North Korea on Ruit's work therein was remarkable not only in being able to document his successful surgery in the highly controlled country, but the overt adulation given to the then-Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong-il by the patients as a result.[clarification needed]

In 2011, Italian director Stefano Levi released a movie featuring Ruit activity called "Out of the darkness."[8]

Ruit's work in Nepal was featured in Episode 5 (entitled Mountains – Life in Thin Air) of the 2010 BBC documentary series Human Planet.[9]

In 2015 Ruit and his work were featured in The 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.[10]


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".[11]

June 2006, Dr. Ruit was awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award. [12]

On 17 December 2015 he was appointed Member of the National Order of Merit of Bhutan [in Gold].[13]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Sight for sore eyes: 'Maverick' doctor who restored the vision of 100,000 people". CNN. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Citation for Sanduk Ruit August 31, 2006
  3. ^ "Sight for sore eyes: 'Maverick' doctor who restored the vision of 100,000 people". CNN. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology"
  5. ^ Ocular Surgery News, Surgeon brings innovative techniques to ophthalmologists worldwide, June 1, 2010
  6. ^ Nepal Republic Media, Bringing Sight To Millions, April 24, 2010
  7. ^ "Sight for sore eyes: 'Maverick' doctor who restored the vision of 100,000 people". CNN. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Out of the darkness
  9. ^ The Fred Hollows Foundation
  10. ^ Nicholas Kristof (7 November 2015). "In 5 Minutes, He Lets the Blind See". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 November 2015. Dr. Ruit has pioneered a simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs only $25 per patient and is virtually always successful. Indeed, his “Nepal method” is now taught in United States medical schools. 
  11. ^ It's an Honour
  12. ^ Ramon Magsaysay Award
  13. ^ His Majesty awards National Order of Merit