Last Update: 16/01/2014 23:51
"Restoring a person's eyesight is one of the most gratifying
things a doctor can do and makes an immense difference to the lives
of the East Timorese people." Dr Nitin Verma, ophthalmologist.
Timor Leste is rebuilding its medical system, and the Timor
Leste Eye Program (ETEP) is playing an active role in this task by
performing eye operations and training local doctors and nurses.
Blindness is an economic and social burden for a developing nation
and there is an estimated 10,000 visually impaired East Timorese
who would benefit from simple eye operations.
The ETEP, established in July 2000, is a program targeted at
delivering eye-care services to Timor Leste. The program aims to
assist in making Timor Leste self-sufficient in the provision of
eye care by 2015 and to work towards completely eradicating
preventable blindness by 2020. The program will achieve this goal
through taking a range of approaches to ensure short term curative
needs are met and long term self sustainability is achieved.
Each year the eye teams travel to Timor Leste to distribute
spectacles, perform consultations and operations over one to
two week visits. Six specialist visits are made each year and 800
to 1000 patients approximately are treated on each visit, with 100
to 150 patients receiving sight restoring surgery. The predominant
surgery carried out by the visiting teams is cataract surgery. The
team consists of optometrists, ophthalmologists and nurses who
volunteer their time and skills to improve eye care in Timor
At the end of 2010:
- 46,074 East Timorese have received a consultation
- 4,811 surgical procedures have been performed
- 29,460 spectacles have been dispensed.
The Timor Leste Eye Program is supported by the Australian
Government, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the local
community and other charitable organisations. The Australia Timor
Leste Program of Assistance for Specialist Services (ATLASS)
program funds several of the ETEP team members, covers the costs of
their surgical disposables and provides the administrative support
for organizing team visits, processing donations and other related
See the work yourself by purchasing your copy of Twenty Minute
Miracles, a photo book compiled by Ellen Whinnett, a Walkely award
winning journalist. The book depicts the work of ETEP in Timor
Leste through beautiful colour photographs. All proceeds from this
book are donated to the Program. Fill the order form (PDF 57 KB) to purchase a
How can you help?
The Timor Leste Eye Program welcomes donations to assist in
providing life changing eye operations for the people of Timor
Leste. Your donation will be used to purchase the medical supplies
and equipment needed to deliver cataract surgery, perform eye
examinations and train local doctors and nurses.
Donations - To make a donation by cash, credit card or cheque,
please complete the donation form (PDF 490 KB). All
cheques must be made payable to Royal Australasian College of
Surgeons. Please return the completed form with your donation
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
Timor Leste Eye Program
College of Surgeons' Gardens
250-290 Spring Street
East Melbourne VIC 3002 Australia
For more information on the program, please refer to the ETEP