Blindness in Micronesia
Micronesia consists of 600 islands that spans 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 the four cities that they are located have direct access to them. Overall, the country is recognized to have a better health care system compared to other countries in the Pacific.
However, there are very little eye care services in Micronesia. The country doesn’t have a single ophthalmologist, so patients with severe eye complications are referred to Hawaii or the Philippines. They must pay for their own travel and procedures, which many cannot afford. 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.
SEE in Micronesia
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 care givers.