Opening Eyes Around the World

In Sitapur, India, a surgeon from Suresh Chandra’s team performed a 20-minute, $25 cataract surgery on a man who was blind in both eyes. By removing the cloudy lenses that covered his eyes, Chandra’s team gave this man sight.

Through a translator, a member of Chandra’s team asked what the first thing the man was going to do after he could see. This man, with a long white beard, who was from a small village, held his hand two feet from the floor. “I have a grandchild. I have never seen their face,” Chandra remembers him saying.

Chandra joined the UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s (SMPH) Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences faculty in 1974, and he is now professor emeritus. Combat Blindness International (CBI), the organization Chandra started in Madison in 1984, has screened more than 2.2 million people and supported more than 360,000 similar surgeries worldwide. Cataract accounts for more than 50 percent of the world’s blindness.

In those moments, Chandra explains, “You are just frozen in time, and you think my gosh, this is really worth it.”

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