Nepalese Barefoot Surgeon Pays Tribute to Sir Ray Avery For Sight Restoring Lenses
In Dr Sanduk Ruit’s recently released biography “The Barefoot Surgeon” he pays tribute to Sir Ray Avery for his contribution to making low cost interocular lenses available that help restore
the sight to millions of people across seventy countries worldwide.
Dr Ruit is the Nepalese ophthalmological surgeon who worked with Fred Hollows and has gone on with his team to restore
the sight of thousands of cataract blind in developing countries using the lenses made in the lens factory at Tilganga
Hospital in Kathmandu.
“ Ray Avery did such a fantastic job he built the first factory in Nepal that was quality assured and documented” said
Dr Ruit in his book.
Dr Ruit makes it clear the factory Ray built was one of the real keys to the success of the lenses. They were able to
take on the big multinational lens manufacturers and show the world that they could produce the same quality lenses at a
fraction of the price.
“In fact the lenses Avery produced were so good that the Indian competitors and multinationals could not believe that a
product stamped “made in Nepal” could be word class - it was a David and Goliath success.”
Sir Ray: “Some people, including some media, have been critical of my decision to manufacture the Lifepod incubators in
India, but the success of the lenses shows developing countries can produce world class products at a fraction of the
price so everyone can receive equal quality healthcare.”
As with all such breakthrough projects there were huge challenges for Ray and his team to pull this off. The original
lens manufacturing equipment did not work and no-one would buy the first lenses into production because they were
manufactured in Nepal.
To prove the lenses were world class, Ray arranged an Independent Clinical trial to be conducted on the Nepal Lenses and
had Dr David Apple a US based world expert on Intraocular lenses test the lenses.
Dr Apple published a report stating “ You have chosen a lens design which is absolute state of the art. In terms of
surface finish I’ve never seen a better lens manufacture.”
This was a game changer and then more and more surgeons used the Nepal lenses knowing they were equal to or better
quality than lenses manufactured by some of the leading multinational lens manufacturers.
The lens factory in Kathmandu is a living legacy with five million people worldwide already receiving sight restoring
lenses made in Nepal.
“I’m proud of what we achieved at the Tilganga Eye centre in Nepal from building state of the art clean rooms to
developing an improved lens manufacturing process,” says Sir Ray, “and most importantly training the local technicians
to world class standards which ensures the ongoing sustainability of the lens factory.”
Dr Ruit believes that the lens factory can produce up 1.8 million lenses per year. Ray says achieving that goal means
by the time his youngest daughter Anastasia 7 reaches his age of 71 there could be over 100 million people receiving
sight restoring lenses from the Nepal intraocular lens laboratory.
“For me, that is a great legacy, however my final legacy will be to produce the Lifepod Incubators to save the lives of
preterm babies in the developing world - then I will hang up my guns and spend some long overdue time with my two