Two New Zealand optometrists recently returned from Samoa volunteering with Vision NZ. John Tarbutt (Cambridge) and Jane Ludemann (Wellington) spent a fortnight travelling around health clinics on Savaii and Upoli. They were gratefully assisted by the only Samoan optometrist, Auckland trained Erna Takazawa, and two excellent Fiji trained ophthalmic nurses on each island. It was at least John’s tenth trip to Samoa and Jane’s first.
The first week concentrated on screening for cataract and pterygium surgery for the Pacific Eye Institute team arriving the following week. The second week concentrated on identifying diabetic retinopathy requiring treatment – of which there was a lot. With no access to Avastin, laser is the mainstay of treatment. All in all around 750 patients were seen, about that many glasses distributed (95% of which were for hyperopia/presbyopia) and at least 200 referrals were made. Overall it was a highly productive and satisfying trip.