Cindy Crawford joined Orbis, the international eye care charity that fights blindness around the world, to unveil its new Flying Eye Hospital at a press conference at Los Angeles International Airport in June.

Omega Brand Ambassador Cindy Crawford, joined Orbis to help unveil its new Flying Eye Hospital at Los Angeles International Airport
Omega Brand Ambassador Cindy Crawford, joined Orbis to help unveil its new Flying Eye Hospital at Los Angeles International Airport

The third-generation Flying Eye Hospital is the world’s only mobile ophthalmic teaching hospital aboard an aircraft.

Hundreds of experts have combined their avionics, hospital engineering, technology and clinical expertise to make the new Flying Eye Hospital a reality. It features a modular design, 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities, enabling Orbis and its team of 400+ medical volunteers, to train more doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

There are 39 million blind people globally; with 90% living in developing countries with limited access to sight-saving treatments, yet 80% of blindness is preventable and treatable. For over 30 years, Orbis has helped countries build the skills and resources required to deliver quality eye care to those in need.

In September 2014, Cindy Crawford, Omega Brand Ambassador, witnessed a sight-saving programme first hand with the previous Flying Eye Hospital, in Peru. Omega has supported Orbis since 2011.

“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,” said Bob Ranck, President & CEO, Orbis International. “The Flying Eye Hospital helps us do that. It is in equal parts teacher, envoy and advocate. We harness this powerful tool for change to support long-term programmes around the world.”

The new plane is equipped with everything needed to provide hands-on training to local ophthalmic professionals. The 3D filming and broadcast capabilities will enable programme participants to experience and learn from live surgeries with a view similar to the surgeon’s microscope lens.

“We are not here to show off, we are here to show how,” explains Dr. Daniel Neely, Orbis volunteer pediatric ophthalmic surgeon and Medical Advisor. “The new technologies on the Flying Eye Hospital allow us as teachers to share, train and interact with more of our colleagues in the developing world, giving a deeper and richer learning environment to transfer the skills to their practice. Most exciting, we are able to continue the mentorship relationships long after the plane has moved on, via Cybersight-our telemedicine portal.”

The Flying Eye Hospital includes:
• a 46-seat classroom,
• state-of-the-art AV/IT room
• patient care/laser treatment room
• operating room
• sterilization room
• pre and post-operative care room.

The MD-10 aircraft housing the new Flying Eye Hospital, has been donated by Orbis’s longtime partner FedEx, and has been custom designed to bring the best medical technology and training direct to areas of need. It is the only non-land-based hospital globally that is accredited by the AAAASFI (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities International.)

The Flying Eye Hospital will conduct its inaugural program in Shenyang, China this September, before heading to Indonesia in November.

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