Flying to fight blindness

Flying to fight blindness

An international eye care charity unveiled its new Flying Eye Hospital during a press conference at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday (3 June). The aeroplane, which is run by Orbis International, took more than six years to complete and is the world’s only mobile ophthalmic teaching hospital to be housed on board an aircraft.

The aeroplane, which flies around the world and enables Orbis to offer medical training to doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals globally, features nine customised modules, similar to commercial cargo containers, 3D technology and live broadcast facilities.

The MD-10 aeroplane is the third that Orbis has introduced since it launched the Flying Eye Hospital initiaitve in the 1970s. It was donated by FedEx and is equipped with everything the Orbis medical training team needs to provide hands-on training to local eye care professionals.

It includes a 46-seat classroom, state-of-the-art AV/IT room, patient care and laser treatment room, operating room, sterilisation room and a pre- and post-operative care room.

During a training programme on the Flying Eye Hospital, Orbis trains an entire eye care team, from community health workers in rural clinics to eye surgeons in urban centres.

Speaking about the new Flying Eye Hospital, president and CEO of Orbis International, Bob Ranck, said: “Our mission at Orbis is to bring the world together to fight blindness, as we believe that no one should go blind from conditions that are treatable or preventable. The Flying Eye Hospital helps us do that. It is in equal parts teacher, envoy and advocate.”

Model Cindy Crawford (pictured), who has supported Orbis since 2014 when she attended one of the charity’s Flying Eye Hospital training programmes in Peru, attended the launch of the new aeroplane.

Following the unveiling, the aeroplane will now fly to New York, Washington, Memphis, Dallas and Sacramento, offering the public the opportunity to tour the hospital and learn more about the work of Orbis. It will fly to Shenyang, China this September to host its first medical training programme, before heading to Indonesia in November.