Media: Videos

Let There Be Sight

In Let There Be Sight, Seva donor Turk Pipkin chronicles his journey with a Seva medical team to a remote surgical eye camp in Nepal's Himalayas where hundreds of people had their vision restored. Special thanks to musician and long-time Seva supporter Jackson Browne for use of his song "Doctor My Eyes."

Every five seconds, someone in the world goes blind. Almost all of the blind live in extreme poverty. But with proper treatment, 80% of them could see again.

Over the past 33 1/2 years, Seva has worked primarily in the field of blindness, and Seva's projects have given back sight to more than three million blind people. Perhaps two-thirds to three-quarters of those patients have been treated for free.

We also have a hospital in Nepal, Lumbini, that we started, and they do around 50,000 free sight-restoring eye operations a year.

Our nonprofit, the Nobelity Project, is really excited to be partnering with Seva. How do you describe the work that Seva does?

People are too poor to come to cities, to hospitals, so you deliver eyecare with a mobile, surgical center. Seva works to provide whatever is needed so that eye care can be delivered to the poorest of the poor. It's a real success story.

I soon learned that getting a medical team and a mobile hospital high into the Himalayas is no easy task.

Here we are going to Num for the eye camp. Here's the road to Num, blocked by a tractor. It's going to be a long day.

This is day one of the eye camp in Num, and we're at the primary school, which we're using for a staging and screening point. And as you can see, there are a lot of people coming in with eye problems. We had one gentleman who came four days from the border with Tibet, and through these mountains that's quite a walk. And they carried his sister who is bilaterally blind.

They do their eye charts. They're evaluated there. They go in for doctors to look at them and checkout their eyes and make recommendations. Some of the times it's eye injuries. In a lot of cases it's cataracts and other problems, and there have been a lot of people referred for surgery. That's where we're headed.

My name is Dr. Kamal Khadka. Providing eye surgeries is 45 to 50 thousand operations. First of all, we'll clean the eye, and I fix the eyeball not to move during the surgery. Then I do the hemostasis to prevent the bleeding. Then I make a straight incision which does not require a suture. Then I'll make a CCC, continuous curvilinear capsulorhexis. Then I disclose the nucleus. I take out that nucleus. Nucleus means the cataract bulk. After that, I wash with the water. All the fibers is taken out. Then I'll implant the lens. Lastly, I inject the mixed drop and close the eye.

Filming the eye surgery from so close was incredible, and it wasn't just one patient. Without taking a break, Dr. Kamal and his team performed 22 cataract surgeries. Now we had to wait to the next day to learn if these patients would be able to see.

We're in Num, Nepal, and it is morning karaoke time.

Good morning. So we're here in front of the post-op setting. I'm Dr. Okada. I'm visiting from Australia. We operated on 22 patients yesterday, and we'll start to take off the pads. It's really amazing. I mean, you come out to these very remote places providing just simple things that we take for granted, and it makes such a big difference to the lives of these people.

We walked for five days to attend the eye care.

Yes. He can see now.


She was blind. Yesterday she was carried by her son. Then I operated, and now she can see.

When a woman sees her daughter-in-law for the very first time, and a woman who had to be carried the day before can see to walk home, you realize that the work these doctors are doing is a true miracle of medicine, joy, and love. Which is why all I can say is, "Namaste."

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