The eye train

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am


The blazing sunlight of Tibet's high plateau may create an austere beauty, but its harsh rays give Tibetans the highest incidence of cataracts on the mainland. Thanks to a mobile hospital train called the Lifeline Express, funded by Hongkongers, many Tibetans have regained their lost eyesight. The train's team of ophthalmologists provide free cataract treatment for poor people on the mainland, including this trip to Tibet last month.

Tibetans (above) who have undergone cataract surgery wait for a post-operation check-up on the Lifeline Express, which is parked at a depot in Lhasa.

Elderly patients (left) queue up for their turn to see the doctor on the train.

An intraocular lens (below, far left) is inserted into the diseased eye as a replacement after the cataract-racked opaque lens is broken into pieces and sucked out with a surgical tube.

An operation is about to begin (below) as a nurse prepares the surgical tools.

Tzandwei (right, from top), 14, staggers out of the operation room with the help of his father and a doctor after cataracts are removed from both eyes; a doctor explains what post-surgery eye care procedures have to be taken; and the boy, accompanied by Lifeline Express ambassador Chelsia Chan Chau-ha, breaks into a toothy smile after his bandages are removed.