Pacific outreaches

4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t need to be. Our ultimate goal is to train enough local eye health workers to reach everyone in need. In the meantime, our outreach teams regularly visit communities throughout the Pacific.

Pacific outreaches

What's an outreach?

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. To combat this, our Pacific outreach team sets up shop in 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-saving surgeries, and dispense brand new, ready-made spectacles. Foundation-trained eye doctors also hold outreaches within their own countries.

What can one outreach achieve?

Our outreaches are usually a week long, and each eye doctor performs around 50 sight-saving surgeries a day with the support of our eye nurses. This is considered 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 gives our trainee eye doctors and nurses the opportunity to gain valuable experience under the guidance of skilled eye doctors.

In 2017 alone:

  • 30 surgical outreaches were carried out by our outreach teams in the Pacific
  • Over 17,000 patients had a consultation with our outreach teams
  • Over 2,300 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 to set up a temporary eye clinic. This is especially difficult when the only way to get to a remote community is by boat.

Long days are also a challenge. There are so many people in need of sight-saving surgery that our teams work long hours. But 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, Training ophthalmologist from Tonga

Will outreaches always be needed?

The current demand for our outreaches will decrease as Foundation-trained eye doctors and nurses return to their own countries. However, there will be an ongoing need for local eye doctors to conduct outreaches within their own countries. This is because there simply isn’t the population to support permanent eye doctors in 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 proper mentoring and support to deal with eye surgery backlogs and difficult cases.

Information for patients and family of patients

Enquiries via Pacific Eye Institute/Colonial War Memorial Eye Clinic

Brown St, Suva
(+679) 3100 424

Opening hours

(Please note Fiji is one hour behind New Zealand)

Monday – Thursday 8:00am – 4:30pm
Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday – Sunday CLOSED


Can I visit one of The Foundation’s overseas programmes?

I have cataract/eye problems. Can The Foundation help?

Pacific outreach calendar

Dates are subject to change, please contact Pacific Eye Institute to confirm.
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