Flying eye hospital takes off.

Press release: Orbis International Secures a Half-Million Dollars from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

February 2020

NEW YORK, March 2, 2019 – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will invest USD $500,000 to support the sight-saving work Orbis International carries out on its Flying Eye Hospital, the world’s only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft.

The one-time grant was created and awarded to Orbis in honor of the Hilton Foundation’s chairman emeritus, Barron Hilton, who passed away in September 2019. The grant memorializes his passions for aviation and improving the lives of individuals experiencing disadvantage throughout the world.

The Hilton Foundation’s investment – and the impact it will have on communities – comes at a particularly crucial time for eye health,” said Bob Ranck, President and CEO of Orbis International. “Global blindness and visual impairment are set to triple over the next three decades, but so much of that can be avoided by increasing access to quality eye care.

Three generations of the Flying Eye Hospital have traveled the world fighting avoidable blindness for nearly four decades. In that time, the Flying Eye Hospital has reached more than 90 countries, where Orbis’s Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) have shared their knowledge with local eye care teams, developing their skills so that they can provide quality eye care in their communities for years to come.

In addition to having an ophthalmic surgical suite and recovery room, the current plane is outfitted with a 46-seat classroom and advanced audiovisual system that allows local eye care professionals to watch surgeries happening in the operating room live in 3D and ask questions in real time. Using cutting-edge simulation training technology – including virtual reality, artificial eyes and life-like mannequins – available on the plane, eye care teams can safely build their skills and confidence before progressing to real-life operations, resulting in improved care for patients.

Take a virtual reality tour of the Flying Eye Hospital

Thanks to leveraging the latest internet and mobile technologies, the impact of the Flying Eye Hospital is now evident beyond the physical locations the plane reaches. Through Orbis’s award-winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight, training activities – including live lectures and surgeries – conducted on board the Flying Eye Hospital are broadcast to partner hospitals and classrooms around the globe.

More than 63,000 trainings were completed by doctors, nurses, other eye care workers and community volunteers via the Flying Eye Hospital, Cybersight and Orbis’s other programming in 2018.

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.

Media Contact

Kristin Taylor Associate Director,
Global Marketing and Communications

Phone number: 1-800-ORBIS-US (1-800-672-4787)

Address: Orbis
​520 8th Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10018
USA