US Eye Team Brings Gift of Sight to 1000 Nepalese

Isolated population living at high altitudes is especially prone to blindness

Daniel Byers

Blindness is a severe public health problem in Nepal, especially in the relatively inaccessible areas. From May 15-29, 2013, an expedition of ophthalmologists and eye care professionals, sponsored by Dooley Intermed International, will provide free eye examinations, eyeglasses and cataract surgeries to villagers in the remote Mustang region of Nepal.  

The 2013 Gift of Sight Expedition team will examine and treat an estimated 1,000 villagers in urgent need of eye care, including comprehensive eye screening, refraction, prescription eyeglasses, cataract and ophthalmic surgeries.

Free eye screening camps will be held in three major village areas: Tukuche, Kagbeni and Marpha, followed by a two-day field surgery clinic with skilled surgeons providing cataract operations and related ophthalmic treatment.Dooley Intermed International  ( is a New York-based not-for-profit dedicated to providing crucial assistance to those who lie beyond the reach of traditional healthcare. It has been aiding the people of Nepal for 50 years.

The expedition team includes six members from the Himalaya Eye Hospital ( in Pokhara, Nepal, including a skilled surgeon, ophthalmic technicians and assistants, three camp staff and assistants, three U.S. team members from Dooley Intermed International, plus two from ISMS-Operation Restore Vision. Also joining are 16 monks and senior students from the local Pema Ts'al Sakya Monastic Institute who have volunteered to serve as "advance team" assistants and tri-lingual translators.

In addition to Dooley Intermed, the expedition is supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear. As official clothing supplier, the company will provide Nepal-manufactured outdoor apparel for the team ( Keeler Instruments is providing assistance with ophthalmic equipment (

The need for this medical mission is great, according to expedition leader Scott Hamilton, a Dooley Intermed director and vice president of Asian Programs.

"It is estimated that 80% of blindness in Nepal is avoidable or curable. The rural and highly dispersed population of Mustang is severely disadvantaged and underserved. Over 85% of the people belong to social groups classified by the Nepalese government as marginalized, disadvantaged, endangered, or Dalit ('Untouchable')."   

There are also many, young and old, suffering from uncorrected refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) that can be easily and inexpensively corrected with eyeglasses, according to Hamilton who has organized biomedical research and humanitarian and eye projects in Nepal over the past two decades. 

Dooley Intermed's 2011 Gift of Sight Expedition to a different region of Mustang was featured in a documentary titled Visions of Mustang (2012), by director Daniel Byers and produced by Skyship Films.

(See the trailer here:

 The expedition will be issuing daily blogs on Facebook and Twitter that will also be posted to Expedition News will join the team to assist in communications for this worthy cause. Sponsorship support is being sought. For more information, contact Scott Hamilton, 646 753 0020,

This story originally appeared in Expedition News.


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