World’s First Flying Eye Hospital Is Fighting Blindness AND Poverty

Credit: Apex
Credit: Apex

Orbis, the international nonprofit that fights blindness worldwide, unveiled a new Flying Eye Hospital last month at Los Angeles International Airport. The former cargo plane, which was donated by FedEx, was transformed into a mobile ophthalmic teaching hospital. Hundreds of experts in avionics, hospital engineering, and other specialties came together to turn the hospital into a reality.

The hospital houses 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities to teach more doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals around the world in order to treat more patients with eye impairment.

More than 285 million people are visually impaired, and 4 out of 5 suffer from preventable conditions. Ninety percent of these people live in developing countries where they cannot access sight-saving treatments.

In the United States, it’s difficult to imagine that visual impairment could cause you or your family to be at an economic disadvantage, but that is the reality for many people in developing nations.

Bob Ranck, CEO of Orbis, said,

“Blindness is part of a cycle of poverty. When you restore sight to a child, you have a multiplying effect on his economic productivity throughout his life. When you treat blindness in a town, you raise the economic productivity of the entire town.”

What the Flying Eye Hospital does is bring treatment and education to areas where eye care is scarce in order to treat patients and improve their quality of life. The education is provided to healthcare professionals living in the area so that they can continue to provide service to others as needed and go on to educate the next generation of health professionals.

Credit: Provision
Credit: Provision

Dr. Jonathan Lord, Global Medical Director for Orbis, said,

“A 15-minute surgery is all most of these people need to restore their sight. And if you dealt with giving people glasses and dealing with cataracts, nearly two-thirds of the world’s avoidable blindness would disappear.”

The classroom inside of the flying hospital seats 46 students, and has a state-of-the-art AV/IT room, patient care and laser treatment room, operating room, sterilization room and a pre- and post-operative care room.

Ranck went on to say,

“We give them the confidence that when we’re gone, they can keep operating. When we pack up and leave, the last child who didn’t get surgery doesn’t have to cry, because there’s somebody left behind to treat him.”

What most people take for granted is now attainable with Orbis, and even more so now that the Flying Eye Hospital is underway.

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