A Vision for Ending Preventable Blindness

040 Trent Hall, plus Zoom webinar


A Vision for Ending Preventable Blindness

040 Trent Hall, plus Zoom webinar

More than three quarters of the estimated 43 million people in the world who are blind could regain sight through medical intervention. But around 90 percent of these cases of preventable blindness occur in low- and middle-income countries, which often lack the resources to perform sight-saving procedures such as cataract surgeries and corneal transplants. This event, hosted by the Duke Global Ophthalmology Program, will explore the scale and impact of preventable blindness, promising models to build capacity for eye care and clinical ophthalmology training at several global sites, and partnerships between ophthalmology, medicine, and rest of the house of medicine that can improve the lives of people around the world. 

*This event is eligible for Continuing Medical Education credit. 


Jalikatu Mustapha M.D., is an Ophthalmologist, who until quite recently, was overseeing Sierra Leone’s Eye Care programme and also served as a Lecturer at the University of Sierra Lione. She has worked with local and international partners to make major changes to eye care delivery in Sierra Leone and bring about positive change. This has included, but is not limited to, improving eye health information in the country, including completing a nationwide assessment of the eye health services available across Sierra Leone as well the very first cataract audit research. She has been instrumental in increasing rates of cataract surgeries in her department and in re-implementing a nationwide cataract surgical outreach campaign to hard-to-reach populations. 

Dr Mustapha has also worked to raise awareness of the burden of glaucoma in Sierra Leone. She has been involved in vital work to increase rates and quality of detection, treatment and surgeries as well as performing the first ever glaucoma research in the country. Her contribution has helped to strengthen health systems dedicated to the condition, from starting up clinics to bringing in patient lists. Working with international partners, such as Dr. Lloyd Williams and Duke University, she has helped bring much needed specialist eye health services to her country including corneal transplant surgery, vitreoretinal surgical services and paediatric eye cancer treatment. In her role as a lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone she has also inspired others to take up ophthalmology as a career. 2 months ago, Dr. Mustapha was appointed as the new Deputy Minister of Health by H.E. President of Sierra Leone as a recognition of her hard work and innovation in the eye health care system. In this new role, she hopes to continue to bring positive transformational change in Sierra Leone’s eye health delivery and the health system as a whole. 

Bidya Prasad Pant M.D., has built a long and successful career working to eradicate blindness. From Geta Eye Hospital in Nepal, where it’s estimated he has performed over 100,000 eye surgeries, to Myanmar he has built a strong reputation as a leading surgeon. When he started his career as a medical technician, Bidya noticed there were no doctors in Nepal available to perform cataract surgery between missions from touring doctors who visited his hospital. One day he saw a blind man turned away from the hospital because no surgeons were available who could treat his cataracts. That day Bidya decided to become trained as an eye surgeon, studying cataract and corneal blindness “because that is the leading cause of avoidable blindness in my region.” Dr. Bidya Pant returned to Geta Eye Hospital, serving as its director starting in 2004, where he helped train more surgeons who increased the hospital’s rate to around 50,000 eye surgeries each year.

Beginning in December 2011, Dr Pant started working together with HelpMeSee, who led a team of cataract specialists. To date Geta Eye Hospital has performed a staggering 61,570 cataract surgeries with support from HelpMeSee, yet thousands more in Nepal are still in need of treatment.More recently, Dr. Pant has taken on a new challenge, leading a team of surgeons at Tipitaka Chalupala Eye Hospital in Myanmar. Speaking about his passion for fighting blindness, Dr. Bidya Pant said “By restoring sight, we are bringing hope to families. Cataract surgery is the most rewarding because there are immediate results. Now this person can be a contributing member of their family.”Today Dr. Bidya Pant is one of the leading eye surgeons in South Asia, having performed over 130,000 surgeries in his career to date and setting a record of 312 surgeries in just one day.

Geoffrey Craig Tabin M.D., is Co-Founder and Chairman of the Himalayan Cataract Project and a Professor of Ophthalmology and Global Medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Tabin is the fourth person in the world to reach the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. His passion for mountain climbing directed him to his professional career in eye care. After summiting Mt. Everest, on one of his expeditions, he 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.Tabin graduated from Yale University and then earned an MA in Philosophy at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. From there, he 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 returned to Nepal to work with Dr. Sanduk Ruit.

Tabin and Nepalese eye surgeon Dr. Sanduk Ruit established the Himalayan Cataract Project in 1995 – with a vow to work to eliminate all preventable and treatable blindness from the Himalayan region in their lifetime, a goal, in Tabin’s words, “more audacious than setting out to make the first assent of the East Face of Mount Everest.” Dr. Ruit, whom the Associated Press heralded as the “god of sight” to the world’s poor, and Tabin have proven that hospital quality standards can be applied in impoverished areas devoid of electricity and clean water. Their successful approach to restoring sight and dogged perseverance has made possible what 20 years ago seemed impossible.Dr.Tabin spends a considerable part of the year working abroad throughout the Himalayas and Sub-Saharan Africa. At Stanford his practice focus encompasses surgery and treatment of diseases of the anterior and external eye including cataract and corneal surgery.

Lloyd Williams M.D., Ph.D., (moderator) completed his fellowship in cornea transplant, anterior segment, and refractive surgery at Johns Hopkins. He performs all forms of corneal transplant including DSAEK, DMEK, DALK and penetrating keratoplasty. He also does bladeless LASIK, PRK, ICL, and refractive lens exchange for refractive surgery, helping people live free of glasses and contact lenses. An expert in cataract surgery, he specializes in complex cataracts and fixing problems from prior surgeries and trauma including lens exchange and iris surgery including implantation of artificial iris. He is the director of Duke Global Ophthalmology Program, “Duke GO.”  The program is focused on restoring sight for people across the globe. A focus of the program is working with international ophthalmologists to teach residents and young surgeons around the world to provide high quality eye care and surgery. Dr. Williams performs hundreds of cataract surgeries and corneal transplants around the world every year. Duke GO also works to exposing residents and fellows to essential training necessary to address blindness and inequities in the global community.

Dr. Williams has performed thousands of cataract surgeries in Africa, Central America, and other areas of the world. He performed the first ever corneal transplant in Sierra Leone in 2021. He continues to be active in international ophthalmology and humanitarian work.He began his career in engineering after completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in materials science and engineering. After doing medical research as an engineer, he went on to complete a master’s degree in Physiology and a PhD in neuroscience working on projects to develop and understand devices for identifying volatile organic compounds for detecting land mines. Dr. Williams is the president elect of the North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons. Dr. Williams continues to be active in international ophthalmology and humanitarian work. He is the founder and chairman of the board of HelpMercy International and a founder of the MoranCore ophthalmology educational website.

This is a hybrid event with both in-person and remote attendance options. Attendance in person is encouraged. Lunch will be available.