Heroes of Orbis: Dr. Peter Kertes

Dr. Peter Kertes is a long-time Volunteer Faculty from Toronto, Canada. A specialist in retina, his expertise is crucial to saving sight—and thanks to his dedication to sharing his knowledge with the next generation of eye heroes around the world, more people can look forward to a brighter future.

Dr. Peter Kertes pictured with local eye health teams on board the Flying Eye Hospital

Dr. Peter Kertes (pictured fourth from the left) pictured here back in 2014

Dr. Kertes first heard about Orbis while he was a resident, training at the University of Ottawa, Canada, back in 1997. One of my mentors, Dr. Brian Leonard, was a very seasoned and frequent volunteer with Orbis”, he tells us “I thought it seemed almost magical that you could duck away from your practice for a week at a time and create these great alliances with ophthalmologists halfway across the world.”

Now, as an expert in retina at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center – a teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada – Dr. Kertes dedicates his time to saving sight in his community. And with his free time, he volunteers with Orbis to nurture and mentor his fellow ophthalmologists around the world.

Over the years, his many travels with Orbis have taken him to China, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia and most recently Ghana.

Image gallery: photos of Dr. Kertes taken during Flying Eye Hospital programs over the years.

Like so many of us, life has not been the same for Dr. Kertes since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The first patient in Canada was treated at his hospital, back in January 2020 – and since then, the pandemic has disrupted everything, from cancelling routine eye exams and elective surgeries, to transitioning to online training.

Orbis is a tremendously nimble organization. As we all know, the world was a very different place one year ago. And I think a year ago it would have been hard to imagine that we would have to deal with the challenges that we've had to deal with today. But Orbis responded very quickly.

Dr. Peter Kertes

Orbis Volunteer Faculty and retina specialist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Canada

Thankfully, as Dr. Kertes points out, Orbis’s long-standing history of innovation meant we could pivot our training offer quickly to develop the virtual Flying Eye Hospital programs. And despite this being new to him, it didn’t stop him volunteering his time to deliver virtual training to eye teams in Cameroon and India—even delivering a lecture in French for teams in Cameroon!

Dr. Peter Kertes trains ophthalmolgists in Cameroon during a virtual Flying Eye Hospital program

Ophthalmologists from one of our local partner hospitals in Cameroon join a training session with Dr. Kertes as part of the virtual Flying Eye Hospital program

Being a dedicated mentor means that Dr. Kertes was already well-versed in using Cybersight, and much to his delight the lecture he delivered on retina had the most attendees of any virtual training session in India last year. And just last month, he was able to assist a colleague in Egypt to diagnose a rare eye condition using Cybersight, which otherwise may have been missed.

Cybersight has allowed me to stay connected to my colleague ophthalmologists that I've met and worked with around the world. There are always these patients that make you scratch your head, and you wonder ‘what's going on?’. And Cybersight is a very quick and easy way of connecting with experts around the world to quickly get a second or third opinion!

Dr. Peter Kertes

As a leader in his field, Dr. Kertes’s expertise means he’s been able to teach and train eye health teams around the world on board the Flying Eye Hospital—from sharing his knowledge in retinopathy and how to carry out effective screenings, to demonstrating the latest surgical techniques using simulation training.

Reflecting on life before COVID-19, he tells us that he can’t wait to get back to working with trainees in-person. “I have to say that I love screening day” Peter tells us. This part of in-country programs is essential for building rapport with trainees, allocating patients and making sure the local eye health teams will come away with the skills they need to treat more patients in their community.

Dr. Peter Kertes screens a child's eyes to check whether they need urgent eye care

Dr. Kertes screens a young girl to check whether she needs urgent eye care

It’s hard to imagine anything more gratifying than helping somebody get the eyesight back they've lost or preserve the vision they have. I feel remarkably fortunate to be in ophthalmology.

Dr. Peter Kertes

We want to say a big thank you to Dr. Kertes for being such a committed member of Team Orbis. Your generosity in sharing your time and expertise with eye health teams around the world means that more people can access the eye care they need before it’s too late.

I like the old Chinese proverb, ‘if you give a man a fish, then you feed him for a day; but if you teach a man to fish, you can feed him for the rest of his life.’ So, I subscribe to that philosophy. And I think Orbis obviously believes in it and executes it better than any organization. If you teach a generation of ophthalmologists not only to provide care to their community, but to teach the next generation to do the same, I can't imagine any more effective way of eliminating or preventing blindness around the world!

Dr. Peter Kertes

We’d like to thank Orbis supporters for making it possible for heroes like Dr. Kertes to train teams around the world and improve access to eye care. With the global pandemic causing backlogs in urgent cases, your support is more critical than ever.

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