About Us


“The Sumba Eye Program is a global fundraising initiative dedicated to the elimination of uncorrected refractive error through the provision of eye exams and glasses, medical and surgical intervention.                                                                      Cataract and uncorrected refractive error being the 2 main causes of 3rd world blindness”

The program established in 2007, is targeted at delivering eye care services to the people of Sumba and building the capacity of the local and regional health staff to provide effective eye care for the community in Nusa Tenggara Timur.
The province of Sumba is one of three main islands in Nusa Tenggara Timur (Eastern Indonesia). Sumba has a very limited capacity to access general surgery, let alone any specialist surgery.
Each year, the eye team travels to Sumba to provide ophthalmology and optometry services to the Sumbanese people. The team consists of optometrists, ophthalmologists and nurses who volunteer their time and skills to improve eye care in Sumba. It performs consultations and operations and distributes spectacles and sunglasses over one-week visits. Approximately 750 patients are screened on each visit, with 90 to 100 patients receiving sight restoring surgery, improving their function and mobility and enabling them to return to productive work in the family and community. The predominant surgery carried out by the visiting teams is cataract surgery

The program has achieved the following since its inception in  2007

Figures up to August 2018 visit:

  • 12,690  Sumbanese have received a consultation
    1237    sight restoring surgical procedures have been performed
    10,646    spectacles have been dispensed
  • Bali Journal of Ophthalmology : Methodology and Baseline findings of the Sumba Eye Program

BJ SEP   https://balijournalophth.org/index.php/bjo/article/view/19

For more information and to download the full PDF article of the Bali Journal Of Opthomology use the above link.

The Sumba Eye Program (SEP) is an outreach clinical eye service that delivers specialist eye services to the population in Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timur, and training support for Indonesian eye health personnel. We report the baseline clinical findings from one visit to West Sumba, provide an overview of the methodology of our program and present initial progress towards establishing a sustainable local eye care service.

Data was collected for patients presenting for examination during a five-day clinic from 10-14 June 2013. Demographic information, presenting and best corrected distance and near visual acuity and refractive correction were recorded.  As part of management, corrective spectacles and therapeutics were prescribed and cataract procedures were performed.

765 patients between the ages of 2 and 97 years were assessed by optometrists.  The most prevalent eye condition diagnosed was uncorrected refractive error, with 692 patients (90%) managed with refractive correction. 96 (12%) were referred for ophthalmology consultation, of which 87 underwent surgery, predominantly for cataract extraction and intra-ocular lens insertion.

The Sumba Eye Program is contributing to the reduction of avoidable vision loss in the West Sumba population, however, ongoing training and recruitment of national health workers is essential to further build the capacity of the local service and assist with sustaining the outreach eye program, with the eventual goal of local provision of care at all levels.

“BKH Print and Design” donate  80 Numeral Letter Charts to SEP

Brad Heuvel from printing company “BKH Print and Sign Solutions” has been very generous in his time and expertise to help develop this new Numeral Letter Chart that really helps speed up screenings.
Most of the Sumba population knows numerals and are numerate–but the majority are illiterate.
Brad has recently donated 80 charts to the Sumba Eye Program.
These charts will be placed permanently in remote medical/malaria clinics, as well as being transported from remote village to village.
Eye chart Sumba

New “Tango” combined YAG and SLT  Laser  purchased by SEP.       June 2018

This laser will not only treat post cataract surgery issues, but will treat those with glaucoma , where the use of drops to lower pressure is very problematical in rural Sumba.
Funding has come mostly through generous grants  by Kew and Glenferrie Rotary Clubs and significant private donations .

Laser 3

May Visit   2018

On this recent trip to Sumba  the SEP team was able to meet with doctors from Bali Udayana University Ophthalmology Department.
The main purpose of this visit was to introduce them to the work of the SEP team with the intention of having future collaboration with both them and University of Hasanuddin, hopefully enabling them all to help the people of Sumba and NTT .
Training and upskilling of existing ECN’s was the most important objective of this trip.
People Screened: 846
Spectacles Dispensed: 574
People referred for surgery next trip in August: 43

Optometrist Rowena Beckenham joined the SEP team on her first visit to Sumba  and enjoyed this fulfilling experience.


Elsiana (Elsi) also joined the SEP team as an Eyecare Nurse.


The purchase of a new motorbike for Elsi was made possible from  private donations and  funding  from “Optometry Giving Sight” and “Rotary” .

 The Sumba team photo  May 2018 and the silly shirt day team photos.

IMG_0120 IMG_0108 IMG_0118

August Visit 2017

Optometrist Liz Vidor joined the SEP team on this visit.

Lizz 2

Dr. Adelina Poli from UNHAS in Sulawesi checking the eyes of a young Sumbanese child on our recent trip to Sumba- this collaboration with the Indonesian professionals is pivotal to the succes of the SEP.


In Anakalang in  Central Sumba,1103 people had their vision screened , 1101 spectacles were dispensed and 126 surgical procedures were done , mostly on people with very advanced (blind) cataracts.

 April Visit  2016

First week of April 2016 saw the SEP Team head to Sumba for mentoring and teaching camp.
Janine Hobson and Chris Katapodis (Optometrists) headed to Sumba and provided lectures and one on one teaching to Nefry, Sani and the Nurses from the Sumba Foundation.
Dr Mark Ellis AM , Peter Stewart OAM and Peter Lewis OAM detoured to Sulawesi – a large island north of Bali – to lecture and provide refraction training to the Ophthalmology residents at the Uni of Hasanuddin. They were  warmly received and gathered great support for the future of the SEP .
The aim of the Program is to help the Indonesian people sustain and expand primary eye care  throughout NTT and beyond.
Dr Mark Ellis AM and his wife Janet then flew to Jakarta , joining Daliah Moss (RACS) to meet with many influential people in the Indonesian Health area and from all accounts the meetings were hugely successful. It is hoped from these meetings that the SEP can grow and help even more people in Sumba and NTT .
The “two Peters” flew to Sumba to join Chris and Janine for several days of mentoring and screening. They were proud and excited to see how much Nefry and Sani had progressed in their  eye care skills.

 August Visit  2015

  • 696 people screened  : many others screened in remote villages by the Optom/Hasanuddin University Teams
  • 68 Cataract and Pterygium operations performed : 6/60 blindness or worse levels
  • 605 spectacles dispensed

Under much pressure to keep our equipment excess down we were not able to bring as many cataract operating kits and we had to leave behind a donated microscope (slit lamp) and auto refractor – till next time.
More great friendships and understandings developed with the Ophthalmologists and Ophthalmology Trainees from Hasanuddin University in Sulawesi.
Every Team member learnt new skills and improved on their existing techniques from the many challenges presented to us.
Another big step forward in the Sumba Eye Program Founders dreams to have a sustainable Eye Care Training Program in NTT and the Indonesian Surgeons providing their highly skilled surgical procedures there.
To our Eye Care Nurse Nefry , what a wonderful job you do for us and your people. Sunny, Ma’a (Eye Care Nurses in Training) , Steppan , Miranda , Franky our long standing Interpreters and friends a big thankyou from the Team.
Rainy , unable to spend much time this year as she is extremely busy with the Sumba Foundation Nutrition Program, we will have you back on board next year!!
Once again thank you to DR Claus Bogh for your enthusiastic and persuasive support.
Thankyou also to the fantastic Team at RACS , Steph, Sara, Alison and Daliah without who we could not do the work we do!!
Now, after a little rest ,we begin planning our next “Teaching” trip in April May 2016 ,

May Visit 2015

During the Teaching/screening week in Sumba the Team screened 405 people for vision problems, dispensed 276 specs, mostly to poor villagers with no access to any Eyecare and we detected 25 people with very advanced cataract (legally blind or much worse) or pterygia. An enormous amount of “one on one teaching” refracting and pathology with Nefry and Atti assisted by Steppan was possible.
It was brilliant to see the Nurses achieve “light bulb ” moments when they mastered technique.

Leave a Reply