ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital
Country of Operation
Target income level
- Bottom 20%
- Eye care
SummaryThe ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital is literally a hospital with wings that brings together dedicated eye care professionals and aviators to give the gift of sight to developing countries around the world.
The World Health Organization estimates that 39 million people are blind worldwide yet an estimated 75 percent of the blind suffer needlessly. Millions could be cured right now because their blindness is caused by conditions that are easily treatable or preventable.
Key program components
Onboard the refurbished DC-10 jet aircraft, local doctors, nurses and technicians work alongside ORBIS’s international medical team to exchange knowledge and improve skills. The mobile teaching hospital is a unique tool in the fight against preventable blindness in developing countries. In the 48-seat classroom at the front of the plane, doctors gather for lectures, discussions and live broadcasts of surgical procedures being performed nearby in the Flying Eye Hospital operating room. If needed, surgeries can also be broadcast to an additional classroom outside the aircraft, for instance, at a nearby hospital. Large numbers of trainees observe the surgeries and ask questions of the operating surgeons via a two-way audio-visual system. Prior to the start of a Flying Eye Hospital visit, local doctors pre-select patients whose conditions are relevant to that program’s specialties. Selected patients are then screened by ORBIS volunteer faculty members at the program site. Priority is given to children, individuals who are bilaterally blind, cannot afford to have the surgery otherwise, and represent good teaching cases. Local doctors maintain oversight of patients before, during and after surgery. Upon the Flying Eye Hospital’s departure, videos of the surgical demonstrations are left with local institutions to be used in further training. As part of ORBIS’s commitment to ongoing quality care, an ORBIS ophthalmologist returns to the host country within two months of each program to examine patients and review cases with the local doctors.