Where we work


Fiji is a popular holiday destination, yet many Fijians don’t have access to the same healthcare level as we do.

What are the eye health problems?

The main cause of blindness is cataracts, with only 47.5 per cent of Fijians accessing the sight-restoring surgery they need. The leading cause for low-vision is uncorrected refractive errors, which in most cases can be easily fixed with a pair of glasses. Pacific Island nations make up seven of the top ten countries globally with the highest rate of diabetes, and diabetes eye disease is quickly becoming the third most common cause of low vision in Fiji.

Almost half of the country’s eye care workers are based in Suva, and outreach teams regularly travel to rural areas to reach people in need. Smaller eye clinics throughout Fiji are under-resourced, and travel costs, plus the physical difficulty of getting around, are barriers for many people.

Our work in Fiji

In 2002, there was no eye care training available for nurses in the Pacific Islands, and the only eye care training for doctors was in Papua New Guinea. In 2006 we built the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva. It provides eye care training for doctors and nurses from across the Pacific region. It also offers a full range of eye care services at Suva’s public hospital and is the base for our outreach team. Made up of trained Pacific Island doctors and nurses, the team travels around the region providing eye care services to people in need.

In 2015 we launched a full-service Mobile Eye Clinic that travels around Fiji’s two main islands. The service has improved access to eye care in remote areas, with screening teams travelling ahead to small villages and referring patients to the nearby Mobile Eye Clinic for treatment.

The team get together to discuss the programme for the day, which will involve consultations, surgeries and follow-ups.
Mere's sight was restored after a cataract operation

Progress in sight

  • Foundation-trained eye doctors are now based in Lautoka in the Western Division and Labasa in the Northern Division of Fiji. With the support of trained eye nurses, they screen and treat patients.
  • Despite challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, the Mobile Eye Clinic team carried out 925 surgeries in 2020, which was an annual record.
  • In 2020, a locally led research initiative to understand the impact of community health worker training in diabetic retinopathy awareness was conducted
  • 16 active Foundation-supported eye doctors* (including 10 Foundation-sponsored graduates)
  • 10 Foundation-sponsored eye doctor graduates
  • 7 Foundation-sponsored trainee eye doctor graduates
  • 40 active Foundation-supported eye nurses and eye care clinicians* (of which 32 are Foundation-sponsored graduates)
  • 57 Foundation-sponsored eye nurse and eye care clinician graduates

2023 Key Highlights

  • 1 eye doctor graduated with a Master of Medicine in Ophthalmology from Fiji National University
  • 2 trainee eye-doctors completed a further year of study towards a Master of Medicine in Ophthalmology from Fiji National University
  • 2 eye nurses graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care from Fiji National University
  • 2 Pacific Outreaches were led by the PEI team to Samoa
  • 3 Eye care staff were supported through a leadership training programme
  • 39,652 consultations provided
  • 2,509 sight-saving surgeries performed
  • 3,919 diabetic retinopathy screenings conducted
  • 1,683 diabetic retinopathy treatment sessions provided
  • 3,921 spectacles were dispensed
  • 70 outreaches made eye care services accessible to communities across Fiji

Where we work

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