Bringing Sight To Those Under Fire: The Life Changing Work of Dr. Nay Hser

27 December 2023

Karen State, Burma

Dr. Nay Hser has now been bringing sight to those in his war-torn home country for over a decade, and it is estimated that he is the only eye surgeon accessible to the one million people living in the Karen National Union-controlled areas of Burma. 8,758 lives have been changed through his work so far. Dr. Nay Hser, his staff, and the patients they treat must flee Burma Army airstrikes and attacks, hiding in the jungle at times for eye check-ups and treatment. With an honorary doctorate degree from Judson University in the US, international training and experience, and a family of his own to care for, Dr. Nay Hser could easily choose a secure and fulfilling life in a conflict-free country. Instead, he is entering into the war zones of Burma, laying down his life to serve his countrymen in their time of need. Not only this, but Dr. Nay Hser is investing in the next generation to do the same.

Dr. Nay Hser has been motivated since the beginning of his career to provide care to those who have been oppressed by the war in Burma. After he became a medic in 1988 he served in Thailand’s largest refugee camp for 14 years. Though there are medical needs for those living in refugee camps, Dr. Nay Hser recognized that “most of the people [still] in the jungle cannot go and get treatment for their eye in the city because they have to pay so much money and they don’t have enough money.” He also shares that “health status data analysis indicates significant disparities in the quality of health services between people who live in urban areas and those who live in rural areas in Burma.” At least 70% of the population in Karen State falls into the latter group. So, in October 2008, Dr. Nay Hser began studying cataract surgery with the intent to bring new sight those internally displaced in Burma.

Seeing the need to multiply his work and be able to address this population’s needs on a larger scale, Dr. Nay Hser eventually founded the Cross Border Community Eye Care Program, supported by the Free Burma Rangers, which plans, procures, transports, and delivers public health components related to eyes and vision for these groups of people in Burma. Their services include vision screening, dispensing of spectacles, eye drops and collaboration to bring cataract and other eye surgeries. In 2015, Dr. Nay Hser also began training others in his line of work, beginning with eye surgeon assistants. His trainings have now expanded to skill sets such as performing facial nerve block and retrobulbar block, treating eyes, and providing diagnoses. He says, “Our eye program is always motivating and pushing all our staff to be hard-working people who are up to date. In the future, we have a plan that the young generation who is capable and qualified will take over the role and carry on the mission.”

While civilian displacement grows due to Burma Army violence, Dr. Nay Hser sees a growing number of people needing eye care services. There are more patients to treat and more eye medical equipment needed with decreasing access to both due to war. Despite these challenges, Dr. Nay Hser and his teams have not slowed down. Instead, they have expanded their eye services into Karenni State this past year, where some of the heaviest and deadliest fighting has been. Cross Border Community Eye Care Program has already provided eye operations for 623 patients this year.

Please continue to pray for Dr. Nay Hser and his team as they faithfully steward their lives to bring new sight to the oppressed in Burma. If you would like to learn more and support Dr. Nay Hser’s work, you can visit his website here.

Thank you for your support and God bless you,

Free Burma Rangers

Dr. Nay Hser with one of his early mentors, Dr. John Forrester from Australia. Dr. Nay Hser was originally trained by the late Scottish eye missionary, Dr. Frank Green (not pictured).
Meeting with Dr. Robert Arnold at FBR’s Jungle School of Medicine (JSMK), 2016.
Operating and training at JSMK.
Receiving his honorary doctorate at Judson University, Illinois, USA, in May 2017.
Villager being carried to receive eye treatment in Karenni State, Burma 2023.
Villagers being carried to receive eye treatment in Karenni State, 2023.
Dr. Nay Hser performing one of 230 eye surgeries on their mission in February and March 2023, in Karenni State.
Dave Eubank praying for eye patients, post-surgery. Praying for the patients is a usual practice of Dr. Nay Hser’s.
Operating and training students in Karen State.
Poe Dah, one of the trained eye surgeon assistants who has been with Cross Border Community Eye Care Program for 8 years. She now knows how to perform facial nerve blocks before eye operations.
Dr. Nay Hser with Saw Wah Gay, 7-year-old boy, after his cataract surgery in both eyes. He began losing his eye sight at 2 years old, but can now see again.