Once the patients realized the change, there was an eruption of sheer joy, cheering, dancing, hugging and kisses for Tabin.
Parents who hadn't seen their families in years got their first look at their children. One woman called her son "handsome," but told him he needed to shave. A priest who had not seen his congregation in years called Tabin a saint.
Tabin said the surgeries restored vision well enough that the patients could pass an American driver's test on that first day.
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness estimates that 40 million people in the world are blind. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
When asked whether cataract blindness could be cured, Tabin said it could.
"This is the one intervention we do, and then people can see [for] the rest of their life," he said.
Through the Himalayan Cataract Project, Tabin and Ruit train doctors, and establish facilities for eye care and treatment, with one goal in mind -- restoring the gift of sight. On this trip to Ethiopia, the doctors treated nearly 900 people.
"It's kind of exciting to actually help this many people in this short amount of time for this little money," Tabin said, calling it, "one of the biggest miracles you can give in medicine."
That gift changed the future for those patients, including 5-year-old Zalalia, who traveled 200 miles with her father to see Tabin.
The day of her surgery, which would remove the cataract that rendered her completely blind in her left eye, she shrugged when asked whether she thought the doctor would be able to help her.
The next day, she was all smiles when her bandage was removed and she was finally able to see. Her father thanked Tabin for giving his young daughter a future.
Click here to donate to Himalayan Cataract Project.