Where we work


Similar to its Pacific Island neighbours of Tonga and Fiji, Samoa is a naturally beautiful country but also isolated and remote, hindering the treatment of avoidable blindness.

What are the eye health problems?

A survey of eye disease and eye care that we completed in 2007 found that cataract was the leading cause of blindness followed by glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and eye injuries.

In terms of visual impairment, cataract and uncorrected refractive error (which in most instances can be solved by a pair of glasses) were responsible for 56 percent of cases, with diabetic retinopathy accountable for 13 percent.

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.

Our work in Samoa

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 and was recently appointed as Samoa’s National Eye Care Coordinator. This new local 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.

The team get together to discuss the programme for the day, which will involve consultations, surgeries and follow-ups.
A patient is seen on outreach in Savai'i

​Progress in sight

  • In 2017 we have no planned outreach to Samoa. With an eye doctor now practising in the country, the people of Samoa have access to eye surgery all year-round. The clinic sees on average over 500 patients per month out of which more than 80 patients require sight-saving surgeries. This compares favourably to the 201 surgeries performed in Samoa by our Pacific outreach team throughout all of 2016.
  • The eye doctor and a team of eye nurses are setting up a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy programme in Samoa to increase awareness of eye care needs for diabetics.

Where we work

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