We recently traveled to Florida to tour the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital – truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was the singular opportunity to be immersed in a flight-based hospital, filled with extraordinary physician and nurse volunteers. The Orbis team is dedicated to restoring vision in communities around the world and training local teams to conduct vision saving surgeries and treatments. We got a first hand look at this non-profit’s life changing work and got to speak to some of the heroes who deliver vision saving medical treatment to people around the world.
The Orbis aircraft holds a state-of-the art teaching facility complete with an operating room, classroom and recovery room. When the flying hospital lands in a destination country, surgeons can conduct vision saving eye surgery in the operating room, as local surgeons sit in the adjacent classroom and watch it via TV monitors. Audio feeds allow local surgeons to ask questions and interact with the teaching surgeons. It is the modern-day embodiment of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” By teaching local surgeons how to conduct vision saving surgery, Orbis volunteers are achieving the organization’s goal of leaving a legacy of eye care behind them.
The Orbis plane began life as a cargo plane until it was donated to Orbis. Then it’s interior was retrofitted and it became a magnificent flying eye hospital in the sky. LVS executive Bari Azman and Sam, star of the You Tube channel “The Blind Life”, spent 4 hours touring the Flying Eye Hospital, talking to the staff and observing the technology and facilities that allow them to save vision in countries far across the globe.
“It was a personal and professional honor to tour the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital” said Azman, Vice President Marketing & Business Development for LVS. “It is humbling to stand in the presence of volunteers who are committed to iridicating preventable blindness in 95+ countries across the globe. I was astonished at their work, the sheer magnitude of the flying hospital and the technology it holds.”
“This experience was deeply personal to me,” said Sam. “I was able to witness the people, technology and transportation that is delivering medical care to those suffering with low vision and blindness in some of the farthest corners of the globe. We take for granted the medical care we have here in the United States and the advanced medical devices we can try to enhance vision. This flying hospital is literally a flying gift of sight for many.”
In addition to its flying hospital, Orbis works with local hospitals in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to train doctors, nurse and biomedical engineers. The nonprofit helps to set up eye care units that are sustainable, allowing them to treat many different vision impairments suffered by local citizens. The Orbis telemedicine platform, Cybersight, provides follow up training to medical teams around the world and gives them access to medical resources and the latest eye research.
“We have the utmost admiration for the work of Orbis and its Flying Eye Hospital,” said Azman. “Every day we work to enhance low vision for our patients so that they can live a full and productive life. We understand the toll that vision impairment exacts on the daily lives of those who live with it. Every time Orbis restores vision or prevents blindness, it restores the ability for that person to interact with the world and expands their environment. They are a distinctly unique organization that deserves support and the highest esteem.”