A small child walks along a hospital corridor, her mother covering one eye with her hand


In Peru, around 1.75 million people are visually impaired and another 146,000 are blind. There is a critical need to tackle some of the more complicated and less understood causes of eye disease in the region such as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) in premature babies and Diabetic Retinopathy (DR).

Retinopathy of Prematurity

It is estimated that 7.3% of babies are born prematurely per year in Peru. As the baby is born early or small, the development of blood vessels in the eye is not complete and may become abnormal, and the baby develops Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). ROP has become the leading cause of childhood blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

With approximately 5.2% of adults suffering from diabetes and diagnosis rates as low as 50% in some regions, Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) poses a huge risk. Everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing Diabetic Retinopathy as excessive blood sugar levels can cause irreversible damage to the to the vessels in the retina - which is why early detection and intervention is crucial in preventing blindness.

As more and more adults develop diabetes around the world, Diabetic Retinopathy is increasingly becoming one of the leading causes of blindness in working age adults.


Orbis’s work in Peru dates back to2002, having multiple projects on cataracts, pediatric ophthalmology, ROP, and diabetes. From 2007 to 2016, we spearheaded two projects in 36 hospitals across Peru that focused on the dire situation surrounding ROP. At the outset of the program, most hospitals had close to zero resources to address ROP, and local staff had very little understanding of the issue.

This work included creating an ROP referral network across Peru and a web-based database to allow IDV to collect evidence on the prevalence and treatment of ROP in the northern and central regions of Peru. This real-time evidence is used to advocate for changes to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and ROP protocols.

Fighting avoidable blindness in Peru

From 2014 to 2017, Orbis worked with the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology to address the problems of adequate screening, referral and treatment for diabetic retinopathy in diabetic patients, specifically lower income patients enrolled in the public health insurance. Healthcare professionals at the primary, secondary, and tertiary level of care received training to screen for DR and ensure patients received timely care via the established referral system.

Between 2014 and 2017, 11,849 diabetic patients were screened for DR by the Project, a 78% increase in IRO’s screenings during the project years. From these, 2,922 patients were found to have some form of DR. In total, 923 patients were treated free of cost between 2014 and 2017.


Since 2016, Orbis has also been piloting a telemedicine program with Peru’s premier ophthalmic training institution, the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (IRO), to train residents in new techniques.

We are continuing our work with the Instituto Damos Visión to reduce blindness and visual impairment caused by ROP via two projects that aim to implement a new ROP information system within partner hospitals in Lima and the northern region of Peru. Together, we have worked relentlessly for almost a decade to make this disease a priority for health institutions and more work is needed to ensure sustainability.

For a decade, we have also supported the Ministry of Health of Peru to improve eye care in the country. Our current work with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), International Eye Foundation (IEF) and Divino Niño Jesus (DNJ) is focused on the development, monitoring and evaluation of Peru’s national eye health plans.

With your ongoing support, other work will include piloting a global education and technology program to provide real-time surgical mentorship from our team of Volunteer Faculty using Cybersight, our telemedicine platform. We will also offer live case consultations and support to help improve the quality of training and the number of skilled ophthalmologists.


  • Instituto Damos Visión
  • Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (IRO)
  • Ministry of Health, Peru