Where we work


While Fiji is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders, many Fijians don't have access to the same type of health care as holiday makers.

What are the eye health problems?

The main cause of blindness in Fiji is cataract, with only 47.5 percent of Fijians with an operable cataract receiving surgery. The leading cause for low-vision is uncorrected refractive error, which in most cases can be fixed with a pair of glasses.

Pacific Island nations are some of the worst affected by diabetes, accounting for seven of the top ten countries with the highest rate of diabetes. This has led to diabetic eye disease becoming the third most common cause of low-vision in Fiji.

A large proportion of the country’s eye care workforce is based in Suva, making regular outreaches to rural locations a necessity. There's a lack of resources at smaller eye care clinics throughout Fiji, and travel costs — along with difficulty in physically accessing services — are a barrier for many patients.

Our work in Fiji

Fiji has one of the largest populations in the Pacific Islands and requires a robust eye care workforce to cater for eye health needs.

In 2002, there was no eye care training for nurses in Fiji and the only eye care training available for doctors was in Papua New Guinea. To counter this, we built the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva, and have been providing eye care training programmes there since 2006.

The Pacific Eye Institute is a hub for eye care expertise in the Pacific, not only providing training for the eye care sector throughout the Pacific region, but also delivering the full range of eye care services within Suva’s public hospital. The Institute is also a base for the region’s Pacific outreach team — a team of Pacific Island doctors and nurses who travel across the region to provide eye care services to people in need.

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

  • To date, ten eye doctors and 43 eye nurses from Fiji have been trained at the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva. There are another four doctors and one nurse training in 2018.
  • In addition to the Pacific Eye Institute, Foundation-trained eye doctors are now based in two other main centres — Lautoka in the Western Division, and Labasa in the Northern Division. These eye doctors and their teams of eye nurses provide eye screening and treatment to their local populations on a more permanent basis.
  • The Mobile Eye Clinic team had a very successful year in 2017. They achieved a 78% increase in the number of patient consultations, performing 596 sight-saving surgeries and dispensing 7,250 spectacles.
  • Health promotion activities are helping raise awareness of eye health and the risk of diabetic retinopathy. In 2017, a television advert achieved an 81 percent increase in the number of new diabetic patients accessing the diabetes eye clinic.

Where we work

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