AIMS/BACKGROUND--As part of a 4 year Spanish development aid programme, an ophthalmic hospital was set up in Luanda in 1991 for the in situ training of local ophthalmologists. Presented here are the data obtained from 4201 patients treated during the first 2 years of the project. METHODS--Patients were referred to the institute from the emergency ward at the Luanda General Hospital, selected mainly according to the severity of their disease. The following data were collected from the clinical reports: age, sex, diagnosis (single or multiple), type of treatment (medical or surgical), acuity of the best eye at the time of diagnosis, and main disease group. RESULTS--The main causes of blindness treated were: cataracts; glaucoma; optic nerve diseases (neuritis and atrophy); trauma; xerophthalmia; uveitis; hereditary retinal diseases (degenerative myopia, retinitis pigmentosa, albinism, and Stargardt's disease); retinal detachment; and diabetic retinopathy. CONCLUSIONS--Sanitary resources in Angola are generally inadequate, and ophthalmic care is no exception to this. Owing to the high percentage of preventable or treatable blinding diseases in this environment, a campaign of social education should always be held along with any medical programme, in order to optimise the available resources.