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Moran Team Working to Achieve Sustainable Eye Care in Micronesia

Padwick Gallen, MD, examining a patient in Micronesia.
Padwick Gallen, MD, examining a patient in Micronesia.

John A. Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division physicians work to create self-sustaining eye care systems in developing countries, looking forward to the day their services are no longer needed.

Now, after years of providing sight-saving surgeries and ophthalmic training in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the division has taken an important step toward sustainability. Moran created a strategic National Eye Care Plan for the FSM—and forged a government alliance to make it happen.

A first between Moran and a government entity, the plan outlines how the FSM will work with Moran over the next three years: contributing financial support for nurse training, skills transfer, equipment, and hiring a national eye care coordinator.

A map of Micronesia.

Meeting Eye Care Challenges

While providing quality eye care to underserved patients presents unique challenges worldwide, few regions are as challenging as the FSM. The remote Pacific island nation of more than 100,000 people spans over 1 million square miles of islands and ocean. Geography alone limits access to treatment, and the backlog of curable blindness is staggering.

Padwick Gallen, MD, in surgery training.
Moran physicians have been training Micronesian physician Padwick Gallen in advanced cataract and oculoplastic surgery.

Since 2013, Moran outreach teams have been making the 6,200-mile journey to treat patients suffering from treatable forms of blindness. To date, they have conducted over 2,500 vision screenings, distributed more than 2,500 pairs of eyeglasses, and performed some 800 surgeries.

In 2016, Craig J. Chaya, MD, and other physicians began to train Micronesian physician Padwick Gallen in advanced cataract and oculoplastic surgery. Gallen had completed his ophthalmic training in Fiji and returned to his home in Pohnpei to practice. Today, he is the only ophthalmologist in the FSM and travels among the major islands.

In December 2018, Moran conducted an Ophthalmic Nurse Education Symposium, training 12 FSM nurses. The Errol EerNisse Family Foundation funded this initial nurse-training trip—one of several planned over the next three years.

"Training a ‘front line’ of nurses to pre-screen patients across the islands is a huge step that will free Dr. Gallen to concentrate on surgeries," said Chaya. "Along with new equipment and hopes of a future infrastructure that could help support telemedicine, we are working with the FSM to set the stage for real sustainability."