In terms of visual impairment, cataract and uncorrected refractive error were responsible for 56 per cent of cases, with diabetic retinopathy accountable for 13 per cent. In most instances, uncorrected refractive error can be solved by a pair of glasses.
Similar to other Pacific Island nations, Samoa has a large diabetic population who require screening and treatment for diabetic retinopathy. We began a diabetic retinopathy screening programme in 2017 and aim to support the Samoan eye care team to ensure an effective and comprehensive diabetes eye care programme is established with wide-reaching coverage.
Samoa has one active eye doctor who graduated at the end of 2016 from the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji. The country also has an optometrist who was presented with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2014. Locally driven eye care leadership has the potential to make a sustainable impact on Samoa's national eye care system.
Now that the country has a practising eye doctor and optometrist, we'll scale back our outreaches to Samoa while continuing to support the eye doctors and nurses through our workforce support programme. This is in line with our sustainability plan. Workforce support helps to ensure our graduates return to suitable clinic facilities, retain their skills and confidence, and receive support from their government.