Where we work


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 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.

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 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.

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

  • The eye doctor and a team of eye nurses are setting up a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy programme in Samoa to increase awareness of the effects of diabetes on the eye.
  • In 2017, the eye care team up-skilled 129 community health nurses in basic eye care and awareness of diabetic retinopathy. This training aims to help improve referral pathways to the eye care clinics so patients can get appropriate advice and treatment.
  • The Foundation did not send an outreach team to Samoa last year but we know the local team performed 540 surgeries, and 159 diabetic laser treatments. The results in Samoa in 2017 demonstrate the wider impact of our investment in the eye care workforce over the last 10 years.

Where we work

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