The Pacific Islands are spread over a vast area and many people simply cannot afford to travel hundreds of kilometres to the nearest clinic or hospital. Our Outreach Team travel to communities most in need of eye care services. They base themselves at local hospitals where they screen and treat patients for a range of eye problems, provide cataract and other sight-restoring surgeries, and dispense brand new, ready-made spectacles. Foundation-trained eye doctors also carry out outreaches in their own countries.
Our outreaches are usually a week-long, and each eye doctor performs around 20 sight-restoring surgeries a day with the support of our eye nurses. This is high-volume surgery by international standards. We’re committed to providing high-quality eye care, and our local eye nurses record the outcomes of every surgery and make sure any complications are attended to.
Our outreach programme also gives our trainee eye doctors and nurses the opportunity to gain valuable experience under the guidance of skilled eye doctors. In 2020, our Outreach Teams carried out 12 surgical outreaches, saw more than 2,500 patients, and performed more than 500 sight-restoring operations.
Many hospitals across the Pacific are under-resourced, and our teams often carry in their own surgical equipment to set up temporary clinics. This is especially difficult when the only way to get to a remote community is by boat. There are so many people in need of sight-restoring surgery that our teams work long hours; their passion for restoring sight keeps them going.
"Because we don’t know when we’ll be back, we’re always under pressure to get through all the operations. The doctors have to work on rotation, sometimes into the night, to ensure we see all the people who need our help.”
– Dr Duke Mataka, Ophthalmologist from Tonga
The demand for outreaches will drop as Foundation-trained eye doctors and nurses return home to work in their own communities. Our local eye doctors will continue to run outreaches within their own countries because there simply isn’t the population to require permanent eye doctors in all remote areas. As our outreaches decrease, we’ll increase our investment in our workforce support programme. This will ensure our eye doctors and nurses receive on-going mentoring and support.
Brown St, Suva
(+679) 3100 424
(Please note Fiji can be one hour behind New Zealand depending on daylight savings)
Monday – Thursday 8:00am – 4:30pm
Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday – Sunday CLOSED
We appreciate your request to visit our programmes in the Pacific, but unfortunately we can’t allow visitors in our clinics. This is to avoid disruption to our eye care services and to provide privacy and respect to the patients accessing eye care.
The cost of restoring sight differs from country to country due to a number of varying factors. In some countries, we can restore sight for as little as $25.
This $25 covers the cost of the vital components of cataract surgery including the intraocular lens (IOL) and other consumables such as bandages, local anaesthetic and medications. This $25 does not incorporate the costs of the clinics, equipment or medical training of the doctors and nurses.
Medical treatment in countries like New Zealand is more expensive because it uses different techniques with more advanced and costly equipment. Therefore it’s impossible to compare with other countries whose medical systems are less developed or have limited health budgets. In the Pacific, a manual and more cost-effective technique is used that doesn’t require the expensive technology but achieves the same result.
Another way of looking at it is that in some of the countries where we work, people may be living on only a few dollars a day. The $25 it costs for an operation as a percentage of their yearly income can be quite similar to the approximately $4,000 it costs in New Zealand, where the average yearly income is around $62,000.
If you live in one of the Pacific Island countries where we work we should be able to help. See our individual country pages for more information.
Unfortunately, if you live outside of these countries we can’t provide individual medical advice. We’re an international development organisation that works with local partners in the Pacific to strengthen local eye health systems. This means we don’t have any medical staff or medical facilities outside the Pacific.
Please get in touch with your general health practitioner and they’ll be able to help you.
Global research estimates that 9 out of 10 people who are blind or visually impaired don’t need to be, their condition is preventable or treatable. Our focus is in the Pacific where there are chronic shortages of eye doctors and nurses who are able to treat people with avoidable blindness or vision impairment. The impact of these shortages can be seen in countries like Papua New Guinea, where an estimated 5.6% of adults aged over 50 are blind, compared to New Zealand where it is estimated 0.53% of adults over 50 are blind.
In New Zealand we have a public health system that provides a full range of eye care services. If you require treatment, we strongly suggest getting in touch with your general health practitioner or primary healthcare provider.