According to the World Health Organization:
- Approximately 284 million people are visually impaired worldwide; 39 million people are blind and 245 million have low vision
- 1.4 million children under the age of 15 are blind
- 80 percent of blindness is treatable and/or preventable
- About 90 percent of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries
- In the developing world, an adult goes blind every five seconds and a child goes blind every minute
ORBIS responds to the specific needs of developing nations and treats the root causes of avoidable blindness through: surgery, delivery of medication, hands-on-training of medical professionals, on-line surgical training and diagnostics, education of local communities and building medical capacity and strategic alliances to create comprehensive and sustainable eye care services.
The world’s only airborne ophthalmic, fully-equipped, state-of-the-art surgical and training facility, The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital first took to the skies in 1982.
ORBIS draws upon an international faculty of more than 500 volunteer ophthalmologists, nurses, and biomedical engineers, approximately 45 of them are Canadian, to deliver eye care training and treatment in the most underserved regions of the world.
How does ORBIS bring sight to those in need?
ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology for local doctors and other health care personnel to develop workable and lasting solutions to the tragedy of avoidable blindness in their country. By building up the long-term capacity of existing eye care institutions, ORBIS helps its partners reach the point where they can independently provide quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable.
Essential elements of this capacity building include:
- Training local eye care professionals and health workers
- Introducing new ophthalmic technologies and related management systems
- Improving the quality and accessibility of eye care
Public awareness and advocacy
In addition to building up a country’s eye care infrastructure, ORBIS promotes public awareness of blindness treatment and prevention, and advocates for national policies affecting eye health. It has introduced the increased use of latrines and face washing in parts of rural Ethiopia to stop the spread of trachoma, and encouraged legislators in Peru and Uganda to enact national eye banking policies.
Programs, Projects and the Flying Eye Hospital
ORBIS integrates capacity building, public awareness and advocacy into its action plan through several avenues:
In five priority countries — Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam — ORBIS develops and implements comprehensive eye care and blindness prevention efforts. Long-term regional projects are also underway in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. ORBIS development offices are located in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Macau, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital
The world’s only airborne ophthalmic training facility serves as a focal point for educational programs and advocacy efforts. Onboard, eye care professionals from developing nations work side-by-side with the international ORBIS medical team to perform surgery, learn new skills and restore sight.
To date, ORBIS has trained more than 280,000 eye care professionals aboard the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital and in local hospitals.
Hospital-based training programs
ORBIS conducts intensive specialized training at local hospitals year round and supports fellowships for talented partner eye care professionals to undertake advanced study with mentors at some of the world’s leading eye care institutions.
This cutting edge telemedicine initiative uses the Internet to connect doctors throughout the world with ORBIS volunteer ophthalmologists for professional mentoring, patient care consultation and online continuing medical education.
ORBIS has offices in the United States, Canada,
Macau, South Africa,
United Kingdom and
To make a secure donation online, please click here. Or to make a credit card donation by telephone, please call our toll-free number at 1-877-672-4722. Cheque donations addressed to ORBIS Canada can be mailed to 340 College Street, Suite 375, Toronto, ON M5T 3A9. A tax receipt will be issued for all donations.