Dr. Geoff Tabin, named in 2009 by the Dalai Lama as an “Unsung Hero,” has led an extraordinary life as a mountaineer and medical pioneer. On various leaves from his education at Yale, Oxford, Harvard Medical School and Brown University School of Medicine, Dr. Tabin became the fourth person to complete the Seven Summits, helped put the first American woman on the Summit of Everest and was part of an exclusive group of climbers to scale Everest’s Kangshung face.
However, Dr. Tabin is best known for his work with the Himalayan Cataract Project where, alongside his Nepalese partner, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, their mission is to eradicate curable and preventable blindness in the underdeveloped world within their lifetimes.
Doctors Tabin and Ruit are the subjects of New York Times bestselling author David Oliver Relin’s book, “Second Suns, Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives,” and have been featured by David Muir on ABC News’ World News, columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, and in articles in The Economist, TIME and many other publications.
Timmy O’Neill, climber and comedian, set the speed climbing record of The Nose route on El Capitan in Yosemite and various first ascents of routes in Patagonia. O’Neill’s was labeled by Outside Magazine to be apart what they called “The Last Bastion of Outdoor Outlaws” for his consistent string of jokes and epic exploits that include climbing the Chicago Tribune Tower, dangling unclipped from a safety line from a net thousands of feet above the Moab desert. Inspired Dr. Tabin and Dr. Ruit’s mission, O’Neill has trained to become an ophthalmic assistant and travels often with Dr. Tabin and Dr. Ruit to the eye camps where they operate.
Together, Tabin and O’Neill, two distinguished and celebrated individuals, will command an evening of the inspiring stories from the bedside of patients cured of blindness in as little as 24-hours along with exciting—and hilarious—stories from mountaineering expeditions all over the world.
On one of his many many mountaineering expeditions Dr. Tabin came across a Dutch team performing cataract surgery on a woman who had been needlessly blind for three years. It was then he understood his life calling. Dr. Tabin had already laid an impressive academic foundation for himself when he began his path as an eye surgeon and humanitarian.
Following his ophthalmology residency and cornea fellowship, Dr. Tabin met Dr. Ruit, who had perfected a sutureless method of cataract surgery that reduces the risk of infection thereby enabling operations in remote areas far from the nearest hospital. The sutureless operation can be completed in less than five minutes while restoring sight in 24 hours with a success rate of 99 percent. All of this for the cost of about $25, or less than what it costs to drape a patient for cataract surgery in the United States.
Since the HCP began operating in 1994, the impact has been massive. Today there are more than 300,000 cataract operations performed in Nepal each year. It is estimated that, now, less than .02 in 100 people suffer from curable blindness.
Together Tabin and Ruit and their respective institutions, have contributed to reducing the backlog of cataract blindness in Nepal by about 80%, while expanding clinical program and service delivery throughout South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. For more visit cureblindness.org
More about Dr. Geoff Tabin
Described by National Geographic as a “human dynamo” for his seemingly endless energy, Dr. Tabin’s life has been nothing short of extraordinary. The fourth person in the world to reach the tallest peak on each of the seven continents, Tabin’s love for mountain climbing is what led him to his professional career.
Dr. Tabin’s university education began at Yale. After graduating, he went on to earn an MA in Philosophy at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. He then took his interest in moral philosophy and health care delivery to Harvard Medical School, where he earned his MD in 1985.
After completing an ophthalmology residency at Brown University and a fellowship in corneal surgery in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Tabin went to Nepal to work with Dr. Ruit and the HCP.
Dr. Tabin is currently Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Director of the Division of International Ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. He spends a considerable part of the year working abroad throughout the Himalayas and Sub-Saharan Africa.
While his passion to conquer the world’s tallest mountains is great, his passion to overcome the mountain of blindness is even greater. He believes the goal he set with Dr. Ruit — to eliminate preventable and treatable blindness from the developing world in their lifetimes — is a goal more audacious than setting out to make the first ascent of the East Face of Mount Everest.