Return to in-person training is off to a flying start

The recent in-person Flying Eye Hospital project in Fort Worth, Texas, marked our first return to in-person training on the Flying Eye Hospital since the start of the pandemic. We're so proud of what everyone accomplished!

Training Caribbean Eye Care Professionals

Thanks to generous support from Alcon, we recently held a two-week training project for nearly 50 eye care professionals from several countries throughout the Caribbean. Orbis clinical staff and Volunteer Faculty and Alcon bioengineers shared their knowledge with the teams, helping them build skills so they can fight avoidable blindness in their own communities.

This project was the first to use our "blended learning" model, in which participants complete pre-learning courses on Cybersight before arriving to maximize the time with their mentors. Once in Fort Worth, eye care teams honed their surgical skills using cutting-edge simulation training technology in the Flying Eye Hospital and at the Alcon Experience Center. Simulation training is an innovative training solution that lets eye care professionals grow their confidence in a risk-free environment before moving on to real-life operations, and it has been shown to improve outcomes for patients.

Training with Orbis

Dr. Jamie Bristol-Smith is a residential ophthalmologist from Trinidad and Tobago who participated in the Fort Worth project. When discussing her experience, she found the hands-on training coupled with doctors instructing her in real-time to be particularly helpful.

She said, "The greatest thing about this training program for me also was that we got to work with these specimens – and not actual patients—so that your confidence in being able to make mistakes, and have the mistakes corrected, it made it so much easier to be able to learn and to go forward with each step."

And after some training she said, "I had my most euphoric moment when I was able to take out my first cataract by myself – with no boss standing by my side.I feel as though now, when I return to Tobago, I’ll be able to offer so much more to the island in terms of being able to help do surgeries and be able to offer so many more eye health services."

Director of Aircraft Operations discusses our beloved plane with CBS DFW.

Dr. Dana Richardson is an experienced ophthalmologist who participated in our "train the trainer" program, in which skilled doctors learn how to be better teachers for local ophthalmologists. She runs her own eye care team in Jamaica, and described how what she learned during the project can help her tackle the patient backlog that grew during COVID. "This experience here on the Flying Eye Hospital has really allowed me to try to find ways in doing that. The program has allowed me to try to build modules to remove some of those issues that we're facing right now."

She also said her team benefitted greatly from learning both manual small incision surgery and phacoemulsification, two methods of treating cataract, the leading cause of blindness in the world. After the project, she mentioned the importance of surgical training for her team. "I think having gone through this program, I would try to find ways of delivering my lectures differently, and also trying to make sure that my residents have a better experience surgically, trying to plan for them so that they get the most out of their surgical experience with me."

Dr. Dana Richardson

Taking to the Skies

We are so excited to be back in the skies in our beloved MD-10 Flying Eye Hospital. For training beneficiaries, growing skills through simulation can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we're so proud to be sharing knowledge and skills with the eye care teams who need them most.

We want to give an enormous thank you to our sponsor Alcon for generously supporting this project and opening your Alcon Experience Center to our partners from the Caribbean. We also want to thank all of the dedicated Volunteer Faculty and Alcon team members who took the time to share their skills. They are truly making a difference! Lastly, we want to thank our supporters – that means you! – for everything you've done to help us save sight around the world. We couldn't do it without you!

Help fund more in-person projects!


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