Providing eye health services | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Providing eye health services

In 2014, we performed over 6,300 sight-restoring surgeries and dispensed over 12,000 pairs of eye glasses – huge achievements given the numerous challenges we face in the countries where we work.

The Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste present a number of unique challenges for the provision of eye care services, with low per capita spending on health, low ratios of doctors and nurses to population, poor health infrastructure, political instability, and economic and environmental vulnerability. In the Pacific Islands, access to health services is also a major challenge, as the population is spread over hundreds of remote island communities.

Locally run eye care services

To ensure we reach as many people as possible we build, equip and provide support to local eye clinics that are staffed with Foundation-trained eye health workers and other local health professionals.

We currently provide eye care services at a number of locations including the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva (Fiji), the Modilon Eye Clinic in Madang (Papua New Guinea) and the National Eye Centre in Dili (Timor-Leste) which we opened in July 2011. We have also established locally run eye care services in Samoa, the Cook Islands and West New Britain (Papua New Guinea).

Surgical outreach program

Four out of five people who are blind, don't have to be, and our ultimate goal is to train enough local eye health workers to reach everyone in need.

In the meantime, our surgical outreach teams regularly visit communities in desperate need of eye care services. Our teams spend a week at the local hospital where they screen patients for a range of eye problems, provide cataract and other sight-restoring surgeries, and dispense brand new, ready-made spectacles.

Surgical outreach also allows The Foundation’s trainee eye doctors and nurses to gain valuable experience working under the guidance of skilled ophthalmologists.

On average, our surgical outreach teams restore sight to around 100 people in just four days.

In 2014 alone, 39 surgical outreaches were carried out in the Pacific. Almost 60,000 patients had a consultation with our eye care team, and over 6,300 sight-saving operations were performed.

The challenges of outreach

  • Many hospitals across the Pacific are under resourced and our teams often have to carry in their own surgical equipment and set up a temporary eye clinic. This is especially challenging when the only way to get to a remote community is by boat.
  • Because there are so many people in need of sight-restoring surgery our teams work extremely long hours, and will often spend 14 hours a day at the eye clinic.
  • At times, the weather can also cause problems. For example, in February 2014, our surgical outreach team was evacuated from an outreach in Rakiraki, Fiji because of flash flooding.
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What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.