Orbis and Alcon to Kick Off Two-Week Training for Eye Care Teams from the Caribbean

This project marks the Flying Eye Hospital’s first return to in-person programming since the start of the pandemic, and we're so excited to bring a new set of eye care professionals to the plane for training. Read on to learn about our new blended learning method, and see how Alcon has helped us fight avoidable blindness for more than 40 years.

With generous support from Alcon, we are kicking off our first in-person training project on board the Flying Eye Hospital – a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board a plane – since the pandemic began. Over a two-week period, our clinical staff and Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) along with Alcon bioengineers and trainers will share their knowledge with nearly 50 ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents, nurses and biomedical engineers from several countries throughout the Caribbean, helping them build skills to fight avoidable blindness in their communities.

The participants will hone their skills using cutting-edge ophthalmic surgical simulation training technology on the Flying Eye Hospital, which is currently at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, and additional hands-on training in the Alcon Experience Center (AEC), a state-of-the-art training facility on Alcon’s nearby campus. Simulation training allows eye care professionals to grow their confidence in a risk-free environment before moving on to real-life operations, which has been shown to improve outcomes for patients.

Learning surgical skills for cataract removal will be a major focus of the training. Cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness worldwide despite being treatable with an operation that can take as little as ten to fifteen minutes. Participants will also learn to treat other conditions that threaten vision, including glaucoma, the most common cause of irreversible blindness. A select group of these participants, who are already highly experienced ophthalmologists, will also participate in a train-the-trainer course, which will deepen their ability to train the next generation of eye care professionals. This helps ensure ongoing continuity of and local access to eye care in their home countries.

David Endicott

CEO of Alcon

Alcon is proud of our more than 40-year part­ner­ship with Orbis, as we’ve worked togeth­er to improve vol­ume and access to qual­i­ty eye care that ben­e­fits under­served pop­u­la­tions in com­mu­ni­ties around the world. We are pleased to wel­come par­tic­i­pat­ing learn­ers to our Fort Worth Alcon Expe­ri­ence Cen­ter where they will have hands-on expe­ri­ence with Alcon sur­gi­cal equip­ment to build their skills and con­fi­dence in eye care tech­niques such as Pha­co cataract, med­ical reti­na and glau­co­ma procedures.”

Saving Sight With Alcon

Alcon, through its charitable donation foundations Alcon Foundation and Alcon Cares, has been a generous supporter of Orbis for over forty years, providing monetary donations and state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, surgical products, and supplies for Orbis's Flying Eye Hospital and partner hospitals around the world. Alcon's expert biomedical engineers and trainers also participate in Orbis programs, sharing their skills and knowledge to help program participants learn to operate and maintain critical medical technology.

Derek Hodkey

President & CEO of Orbis International

When the pan­dem­ic broke out in March 2020, we had to make the dif­fi­cult deci­sion to can­cel the sec­ond half of a train­ing we were deliv­er­ing in Fort Worth in part­ner­ship with Alcon, so we could not think of a more fit­ting place for the Fly­ing Eye Hos­pi­tal to return to in-per­son pro­gram­ming. While the plane has con­tin­ued its mis­sion vir­tu­al­ly over the past two years, this is an unmis­tak­able sign of hope, a chance to pick up where we left off and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to apply new inno­va­tions to our fight against avoid­able blindness.

Last year, Alcon supported our virtual Flying Eye Hospital project in Latin America, where eye care professionals from around the region grew their skills in detection and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease in premature infants. We are so grateful for their continued support of our crucial programs.

40 Years of Innovation

This year, we are celebrating 40 years since the Flying Eye Hospital took its first flight. Since 1982, three generations of the Flying Eye Hospital have taken training to eye care teams in over 95 countries around the world. In 2020, we reimagined in-person Flying Eye Hospital trainings as virtual ones to ensure that eye care teams could still access critical training safely during the pandemic. We reached nine countries in 2020 and 34 countries in 2021 through virtual Flying Eye Hospital projects.

With the plane now returning to in-person programming, the virtual model we developed is being used in conjunction with in-person training, a concept known as “blended learning,” to ensure that participants can maximize the time with their mentors, continue their education after the plane leaves and more.

Over the past four decades, we have conducted tens of millions of eye screenings and performed eye surgeries and laser treatments for hundreds of thousands of patients. We've also trained hundreds of thousands of eye care professionals at all levels, including tens of thousands of medical doctors. The people we train go on to provide sight-saving care in their communities and, in many cases, go on to train eye care professionals themselves.

Thank You

We would like to give one last thank you to Alcon for helping us complete our mission for over 40 years. Thanks to their generosity, we can train eye care professionals both in-person and online, using top-notch facilities and equipment.

Stay tuned for more updates from our first in-person project on the Flying Eye Hospital since the pandemic. We can't wait to share more with you!

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