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Press release: Celebrating 20 years of Cybersight

Eye care nonprofit Orbis International celebrates the 20th anniversary of its award-winning telemedicine and e-learning platform, Cybersight.

  • Tool provides free access to training and mentors for eye care professionals in areas with the greatest need
  • 99% of users surveyed said Cybersight improved their knowledge and skills
  • New Cybersight mobile app expands access for eye care professionals through offline functionality

September 5, 2023 – NEW YORK – Eye care nonprofit Orbis International celebrates the 20th anniversary of its award-winning telemedicine and e-learning platform, Cybersight. Born at the dawn of the internet, Cybersight now has more than 85,000 registered eye care professionals hailing from nearly every country and region in the world. A new Cybersight mobile app is giving access to even more eye care professionals with its offline functionality, critical for eye teams working in areas with poor or no internet connection.

Through Cybersight, medical professionals around the world can access training and education tools, courses and lectures anywhere, anytime – from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Cybersight’s advanced features, including long-distance mentoring and an artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic tool, are available for free for eye care professionals in low- and-middle-income countries, home to nine out of ten people with vision loss.

A Mongolian ophthalmologist uses Cybersight's Consult Service on her laptop to liaise with members of Orbis Volunteer Faculty

Dr. Battsetseg in Mongolia uses the telemedicine platform Cybersight to consult with ophthalmologist Dr. Ron Pelton, based in Colorado, USA, about a pediatric patient with a rare and complicated eye condition.

Via Cybersight, Orbis’s team of 400 world-leading Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) can deliver training and consultations without having to leave their homes. To date, Cybersight has delivered more than 30,000 consultations to help eye care professionals diagnose and treat patients with complex cases from all corners of the world, even reaching conflict-affected areas like Ukraine and Syria.

The Cybersight team has undertaken comprehensive research to better understand how eye care professionals benefit from the platform. This survey showed that professionals at all levels value Cybersight. Of Cybersight users surveyed, 99% said the platform increased their knowledge and skills, 75% said it enabled them to make better informed decisions and 72% said Cybersight increased their professional confidence.

The New Cybersight App

Orbis recently launched a new Cybersight mobile app that provides even easier access to these services for eye care professionals. The app enables eye teams to create and respond to patient cases while offline, and automatically syncs when the user next connects to the internet. The flexibility this offline functionality provides is critical for eye teams working in areas with poor or no internet connectivity, including in remote or conflict-affected communities.

The Cybersight app provides a lot of knowledge, especially the lessons we need to learn more about in pediatric eye care,” says Dr. Kieu Le The Mong, an ophthalmologist in Vietnam who specializes in treating retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a leading cause of vision loss in children. “I use the app frequently to access information … and connect with mentor specialists in ROP.”

20 Years of Telehealth Innovation

In 1998, decades ahead of his time, Dr. Eugene Helveston, then part of Orbis Volunteer Faculty, created the first-ever internet-based ophthalmic telemedicine program. In 2003, Cybersight officially launched, paving the way for landmark changes in ophthalmic education.

During Orbis visits to Havana, Cuba, Dr. Helveston realized that in-person training projects were not enough; committed local doctors needed ongoing support. Having already experimented with remote consultations, he along with Orbis team members, set about training local colleagues with digital imagery and clinical history recording.

This would allow them to email cases to Dr. Helveston at his home in Indianapolis. From there he could send back, via email, a diagnosis, or recommendation for further tests and re-submission, or a suggested treatment plan. In doing so, Orbis’s first ophthalmic telemedicine system was born.

Over the past two decades, Cybersight has proven to be critical for ophthalmic training, especially in recent years. As the COVID pandemic unfolded, Orbis was already set up to meet the needs of eye care professionals throughout the world – virtually. In the past four years, there have been more than 11 million views of Cybersight videos, over 119,000 webinar attendances and over 246,000 course enrollments.

Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness and vision loss for over 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. For the past ten consecutive years, Orbis has achieved Charity Navigator's coveted four-star rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, placing Orbis in the top 3% of U.S. charities. For the past two years, Orbis has earned GuideStar's platinum Seal of Transparency. In 2022, Orbis earned "accredited charity" status from the Better Business Bureau by meeting all 20 of their standards for charity accountability. To learn more, please visit orbis.org.

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