Pacific Eye Institute doctors performing their first scleral buckling surgery

The first scleral buckling surgery performed by Pacific Eye Institute doctors occurred in Fiji last week. This complex eye surgery is used to correct a detached retina and restore vision. Previously, patients could only access this type of treatment through visiting teams or by travelling overseas, so being able to offer this surgery at the Pacific Eye Institute with local doctors is a huge win for all.

Retinal detachment happens when part of your retina, the layer of tissue at the back of the eye that detects shape and colour, separates from the inner lining of your eye. This causes visual disturbances and if not treated promptly, can lead to permanent vision loss. While retinal detachment is most common in people over the age of 50, it can happen at any age.

The first patient treated at the Pacific Eye Institute was Peni Nauluvalu, who is 40 years old. Peni suffered with chronic retinal detachment and had tried for many years to raise enough money to travel overseas for treatment. He had no vision in one eye and could only see hand movements in the other, which meant he depended on his walking stick to be able to get around.

When Peni arrived at the Pacific Eye Institute, his visual deterioration was already at a very late stage. However, given that he was a young patient and they would be operating on just one they went ahead, counselling him of a slim chance of vision improvement. Dr Subash and his team performed a combined scleral buckling and vitrectomy surgery.

After the surgery, when Peni came back to have his eye bandage removed, he was able to walk on his own for the first time. While he has shown signs of improvement, Peni is still in the very early stages of recovery. The team will continue to follow up with him as he moves through the recovery process.

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