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Orbis International Commences First-Ever Training Program in the United States

March 9, 2020 GMT
Orbis Volunteer Faculty provided guidance and shared techniques with Chilean and regional South American residents with cutting-edge simulation training technology on board the Flying Eye Hospital. Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee | Chile 2019
Orbis Volunteer Faculty provided guidance and shared techniques with Chilean and regional South American residents with cutting-edge simulation training technology on board the Flying Eye Hospital. Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee | Chile 2019

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Orbis International, a leader in the fight against avoidable blindness for nearly forty years, commenced its first-ever training program in the United States. Eye care professionals from Latin America have come to Texas for two weeks of training on board Orbis’s Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on an MD-10 aircraft, which is currently at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport.

Since 1982, three generations of the Flying Eye Hospital have been bringing training to eye care teams in places with the greatest need so that they can restore vision in their communities, but this is the first time that Orbis has brought participating eye care professionals to the plane.

“We are thrilled about this program – and not just because it’s the first of its kind for us,” said Dr. Danny Haddad, Chief of Programs at Orbis International. “The Orbis story is full of examples of re-imagining how we ensure that the highest quality training reaches the eye care professionals who need it most. We’re excited to see how the participants with us in Fort Worth will go on to transform lives with the skills they develop here.”

The United States is the 97th country where the plane has provided training.

Two Weeks to Cultivate Sight-Saving Skills

Over the next two weeks, Orbis’s Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) will share their knowledge and skills with ophthalmologists, ophthalmologists-in-training and nurses – who are primarily from Bolivia, as well as from Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru – in ophthalmic skills that will help them meet the eye care needs of their local communities. For example, learning surgical skills for cataract removal will be a major focus of the training because the condition remains the leading cause of blindness across Latin America and the Caribbean, accounting for at least 50% of all blindness, despite being treatable with a 20-minute operation.

Participants will also learn to treat other conditions that threaten vision, including glaucoma and strabismus, as well as how to perform fundamental ophthalmic procedures, such as basic and advanced suturing.

The participants will hone their skills using Orbis’s cutting-edge simulation training technology – like artificial eyes, virtual reality, and life-like mannequins – available on the Flying Eye Hospital. Simulation training allows eye care professionals to grow their confidence in a risk-free environment before moving on to real-life operations, which has been shown to improve outcomes for patients.

In addition to receiving training on board the aircraft, participants will also build their skills in the Alcon Experience Center, a state-of-the-art training facility operated by Alcon, the global leader in eye care and ophthalmic training.

Alcon has been a generous supporter of Orbis for forty years, donating state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, surgical products, pharmaceuticals and supplies for Orbis’s Flying Eye Hospital and partner hospitals around the world. Alcon’s expert biomedical engineers also participate in Orbis programs, sharing their skills and knowledge to help training participants learn to operate and maintain critical medical technology.

“By hosting these international ophthalmologists, ophthalmologists-in-training and nurses over the coming two weeks at our Fort Worth campus’ Alcon Experience Center, we are able to expand and supplement the Flying Eye Hospital’s skills trainings with simulated practice environments, enhanced wet labs, and interactive learning technologies,” said Melissa Thompson, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Alcon and President of the Alcon Foundation. “Together, Alcon and Orbis are providing eye care professionals with an environment where they can hone the skills needed in their local communities.”

The Growing Urgency of Avoidable Blindness

Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness, and in almost half of those cases, it could be prevented or addressed. That is the equivalent of about 1 in 6 people worldwide living with these conditions avoidably.

The problem is growing worse. Experts have predicted that global blindness and vision impairment will triple by the year 2050, but the number of people in need of eye care is already outpacing the number of trained ophthalmologists. This is particularly true in low- and middle-income countries, where the prevalence of vision impairment is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.

By providing training to entire eye care teams – from health workers in rural clinics to eye surgeons in urban centers – in low- and middle-income countries, Orbis works to ensure that everyone has sustainable access to quality eye care, no matter where they live.

About Orbis International

Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness for nearly four decades. Orbis transforms lives by delivering the skills, resources and knowledge needed to deliver accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners, including hospitals, universities, government agencies and ministries of health, Orbis provides hands-on ophthalmology training, strengthens healthcare infrastructure and advocates for the prioritization of eye health on public health agendas. Orbis operates the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft, and an award-winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight. To learn more, please visit orbis.org.

About Alcon

Alcon helps people see brilliantly. As the global leader in eye care with a heritage spanning more than seven decades, we offer the broadest portfolio of products to enhance sight and improve people’s lives. Our Surgical and Vision Care products touch the lives of more than 260 million people in over 140 countries each year living with conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases and refractive errors. Our more than 20,000 associates are enhancing the quality of life through innovative products, partnerships with eye care professionals and programs that advance access to quality eye care. Learn more at www.alcon.com.

Media Contacts

Orbis International
Kristin Taylor
Associate Director, Global Marketing and Communications
kristin.taylor@orbis.org

Alcon
Steven Smith
Director, External Communications
steven_p.smith@alcon.com

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SOURCE Orbis International