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RANZCO supports new diabetic eye clinic.

THE Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has partnered with the Pacific Eye Institute and The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to support the opening of a new Diabetes Eye Clinic in Suva, Fiji.

The Pacific Eye Institute trains ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses for the Pacific region.

Opened on June 22, the new Diabetes Eye Clinic represents a significant milestone in increasing local capacity for the management of patients with diabetic retinopathy as a part of the standard diabetic health check. This will facilitate the opportunity for early detection, patient education and follow-up of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in the Pacific Island region.

Recent population based data shows that 27.2% of known diabetics and 4.2% of newly diagnosed diabetics in Fiji have retinopathy (Brian 2010).

Good management of diabetes and hypertension significantly reduces the risk for diabetic retinopathy. Furthermore, early detection and treatment of established retinopathy can greatly reduce the risk for visual loss.

"We need to screen all diabetics in order to catch the retinopathy really early, and educate them," said Dr Biu Sikivou, ophthalmologist in-charge of the Clinic.

Diabetes, and its eye complications, is a huge regional problem. Screening and treating diabetic retinopathy requires highly organized healthcare systems, well-trained personnel and sophisticated equipment.

The RANZCO involvement is funded by AusAID through the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and the Vision2020 Global Consortium.

Through co-ordinated RANZCO Fellow sub-specialty teaching visits, and the RANZCO teaching ophthalmologist based in Suva, Dr Gary Phelps, RANZCO is helping to support the clinical capacity building of Pacific Eye Institute ophthalmologists and trainees.

From left to right: Bevan Reagan (technician from OptiMed NZ), Dr Roger Dethlefs (ophthalmologist), Dr Gary Phelps (RANZCO Teaching ophthalmologist) and Dr Biu Sikivou (Ophthalmologist in-charge) at the opening of the new Diabetes Eye Clinic in Suva.


Professional standards are enhanced, benefiting the wider Pacific Islands region.

"The collaboration also includes the provision of diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, in particular tripling the number of lasers for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy," says RANZCO ophthalmologist Neil Murray.

"The old clinic only had the capacity to manage one fifth of the estimated diabetics requiring treatment. There is now increased capacity which should go some way to address the backlog of patients", Murray added.


Brian, G. Diabetic Eye Disease among adults in Fiji with self-reported diabetes, 2010.

Brian, G. Diabetic Eye Disease among adults in Fiji with previously undiagnosed diabetes, 2011

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Title Annotation:news; Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
Publication:The Dissector: Journal of the Perioperative Nurses College of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Geographic Code:8FIJI
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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