Eye specialists finally arrive on the island after three years

Ophthalmologist eye surgeon Penny McAllum (left)

After three years, due to the pandemic, a team of three eye specialists were able to arrive on the island on Monday’s flight this week. 

The team includes ophthalmologist and eye surgeon Penny McAllum, diabetic retinal screener Raina Tutini and optometrist Kylie Dreaver. 

Since Tuesday, the team has been working hard to see as many patients who need to get their eyes examined, specifically those who are diagnosed with diabetes. 

BCN News was able to speak with Ophthalmologist eye surgeon Penny McAllum on Tuesday this week. 

“The three of us are here until next Monday to see as many people as we can with eye problems. We are looking at diabetics in particular. We want to see as many diabetics as we can and anyone who has got poor vision really. So I guess people with cataracts and any problems with glasses and things like that as well.”

Their usual yearly visit to the island was put on hold for the past three years due to the Covid-19 outbreak, says Penny.

“This is my eighth visit to Niue. I’ve been here lots of times but it’s been three and a half years since the last visit. We expected last time when we were here that we would be back again a year later. But because of Covid it’s been so delayed that it’s been a long time.”

“It was early 2019, we were last here. It’s been a long time. But because of that we are gonna come again soon. So we can only be here for a week, which is not long enough to see everyone or to do any significant surgery this time,” says Penny. 

Penny told BCN News that due to some delays they were unable to bring all of their equipment needed to undertake eye surgeries, especially those with cataracts.

“We are planning to come back early next year, probably around March or April, and next time we are going to bring the full team which is five of us…and we will be able to do a whole lot of surgery as well as seeing patients.”

The team will depart the island next Monday.

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