World Sight Day 2019: using tech to reach more people than ever

Orbis launch fund to invest in tech & innovation

With global blindness and visual impairment expected to triple by 2050, we’ve launched a new fund designed to help us invest in technology & innovation to reach more people - more efficiently - than ever before.

For more information or to contribute to the Silicon Valley Orbis Innovation Fund, please contact:

Orbis has long been investing in technology and innovation through our Cybersight, telemedicine platform, artificial intelligence software, simulation centers and virtual reality.

We know that technology is the best way to both improve the quality of, and dramatically scale up access to, medical training for eye teams around the world.

Thanks to the generosity of philanthropists Susan and John A. Sobrato, who donated $1 million toward the launch the new Silicon Valley Orbis Innovation Fund, we can begin to scale up the impact of our work and help fight the blindness crisis on our doorstep.

Watch & Share our video about simulation centers

Following the launch of the Innovation Fund, we’re looking to raise a further $8 million in donations to harness the next generation of technology and revolutionize the future of eye care and ophthalmological training.

Bob Ranck

President & CEO of Orbis International

Hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple go through life fac­ing blind­ness and visu­al impair­ment sim­ply because they can’t get the eye care they need. We have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to change that. Train­ing entire eye care teams – every­one from health work­ers in rur­al clin­ics to eye sur­geons in urban cen­ters – is the best, most sus­tain­able way to ensure no one need­less­ly lives a life with­out sight.

How We’re Innovating to Fight Blindness

The Innovation Fund will help expand the reach and impact of our work in the following ways:


One of the most important goals of the Fund is to develop a robust mobile app through Cybersight - our virtual clinical training platform - because mobile phones are far more prevalent than computers in many of the countries where we work.

This will provide even more doctors and clinicians – including in remote and conflict-affected areas – with access to training and virtual mentoring. The Fund will also cover the development of new Cybersight courses as well as enhancements to the platform.

Artificial Intelligence:

A new artificial intelligence tool on Cybersight can detect common eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, in seconds by examining digital photographs of the back of the eye.

This is game-changing for increasing access to early detection, which is critical to prevent treatable eye conditions from leading to blindness. Refinements needed to further increase the accuracy of the technology and the number of conditions it can detect will be made possible through the Fund.

Slideshow: Embracing technology to finesse the skills of our partners in Latin America


Just as pilots learn to fly planes through simulation training, our simulation training program uses virtual reality, cutting-edge prosthetics, and highly sophisticated, life-like mannequins so that eye care teams can build their skills and confidence safely before progressing to real-life surgeries.

Simulation training has been proven to effectively decrease complication rates, reduce surgical time and improve outcomes among a surgeon’s early surgical cases. This results in a better patient experience, cost savings and improved standards of care.

Virtual Reality:

We’re teaming up with FundamentalVR, to develop a touch-sensitive, virtual reality training platform that will allow ophthalmology students to practice procedures on their own, without a professor present, on what feels like actual human tissue.

It’s the world’s first-ever technology of its kind to use low-cost, off-the-shelf hardware, which will make it available at a fraction of the cost of existing surgical simulators. The platform will particularly benefit doctors in places where previous simulators were too big or expensive to be deployed, enhancing the quality of ophthalmology practice globally.

Transform Lives Today

For nearly four decades, the cornerstone of our work has been teaching and training eye teams around the world. But only by embracing technology & innovation will we be able reach more people, with better and more advanced training, to help us fight the crisis on our doorstep.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Susan and John A. Sobrato. Without their support, the creation and development of this Fund would not be possible.

Join them in the fight against preventable blindness by supporting the Fund today.

For more information or to contribute to the Silicon Valley Orbis Innovation Fund, please contact:

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