A joint New Zealand Herald and Fred Hollows Foundation NZ campaign has raised $155,700 for eye-health equipment in Vanuatu.

This is more than twice the amount hoped for from a series of articles - Giving the Gift of Sight - that ran this month drawing attention to a dramatic rise in diabetes-related blindness.

"This is an amazing result which we are incredibly grateful to the New Zealand public for," said Andrew Bell, chief executive of the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ.

"The funding is going towards a new OCT camera and further equipment for the Port Vila National Eye Centre, allowing our eye doctors and nurses to provide the people of Vanuatu with quality eye care, helping us in our vision to end avoidable blindness throughout the Pacific. Thank you readers of the NZ Herald!"


The campaign aimed to raise $70,000 for the eye camera that will be used to diagnose a range of eye diseases. The additional money will be spent on computers, electronic eye charts and any outstanding building costs for the new clinic due to open in February.

While the campaign focused on Vanuatu, it was inspired by the growing incidence of complications such as diabetic retinopathy which is overwhelming health services, particularly in the Pacific where four out of five people who are blind don't need to be.

Alarmingly, an increasing number are young people. Diabetes-related eye disease is the biggest cause of preventable blindness among working-age people.

Nearly a quarter of Vanuatu's population of 280,000 have diabetes, according to the World Health Organisation, meaning a huge number of people need their eyes checked.