Volunteer Ophthalmic Services Overseas (VOSO) is a New Zealand charitable trust that provides free eye aid to people in the Pacific.
For over 30 years VOSO has been a completely voluntary based service provided by a small group of dedicated ophthalmologists and optometrists passionate about improving the quality of life for people in the Pacific.
VOSO plays a huge role in helping restore sight to those less fortunate in the Pacific Islands through sight-saving surgery (cataract), vision screening and the distribution of thousands of pairs of glasses each year.
Because of the lack of services for the blind in developing countries, being blind or having impaired vision in the Pacific Islands means that people are dependent on family members for care. They cannot work or support themselves. Restoring their sight allows them to be active members of their community.
The small teams, usually two optometrists and two ophthalmologists, which VOSO provides, allows the flexibility to travel to rural areas that are often missed by larger healthcare teams. In addition to this the VOSO teams can work alongside other healthcare teams to provide a synergistic effect, improving patient outcomes.
Optometrists and Ophthalmologists travel together so that patients needing specialist care can be treated immediately reducing the need for patients to travel for additional procedures. Typically during a one week trip a VOSO team will see approximately 500 patients, providing surgery to 50 patients and spectacles to 300 patients. (I got these figure from last years
Back in New Zealand the teams work together sourcing medical supplies, spectacles
and developing plans to screen and treat patients in regions throughout Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Providing our own supplies and working with local hospitals in the Pacific means that we can support the local hospitals through maintenance of surgical equipment, mentoring of staff and the supply of eye drops and medications.