SEE has been committed to providing vital eye care services to patients in Micronesia since 2000. In 2017, SEE held two clinics in the country. Through a partnership with Canvasback Missions, SEE volunteer surgeon Dr. James Bainer, completed 73 sight-restoring surgeries at the Yap State Hospital.
SEE frequently partners with the Moran Eye Center, and in October 2017, our joint team was able to provide necessary screenings to 850 patients and performed more than 300 sight-restoring surgeries at Chuuk State Hospital. In addition, the team provided training to develop the skills of local caregivers. Since 2017, SEE has organized 5 programs in Micronesia, performing over 600 sight-restoring surgeries and serving over 1,200 patients.
Micronesia consists of 600 islands that span over an area of the Pacific Ocean that is five times the size of France. There are four public hospitals in the entire country, but only people living near those four cities have direct access to them. Overall, the country is recognized to have a better healthcare system compared to other countries in the Pacific.
However, there are very few eye care services available in Micronesia. The country doesn’t have a single ophthalmologist, so patients with severe eye conditions are referred to Hawaii or the Philippines and must pay for their own travel and procedures, which many cannot afford. Therefore, the majority of Micronesians suffering from blindness and vision impairment are only able to receive care when a medical team visits from out of the country.
The main causes of blindness in Micronesia are cataract and diabetic retinopathy, which are treatable and/or avoidable in most cases.