28 million people in the world are blind, yet their blindness could have been prevented, or their eyesight restored, if only they’d had access to proper eye care — or, a seat on the world’s only jumbo jet outfitted as a Flying Eye Hospital.

Working the runways of the developing world for 25 years, the ORBIS humanitarian jet has eliminated blindness and restored sight to millions.

The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital is a DC-10 wide-body aircraft converted into a ophthalmic surgical center and an innovative teaching facility. Since 1982, when ORBIS took off on its first sight-saving mission, more than three million people have received medical treatment.

If the teaching component is estimated, as many as 27.5 million children and adults have benefited as a result of the skills gained by doctors and medical professionals through ORBIS training, then shared among colleagues and passed on to patients.

Many of the world’s leading surgeons donate their time to perform surgery and teach aboard the aircraft. 124,000 health care workers have been trained in more than 80 countries in all facets of eye care and surgeries.

ORBIS has created permanent offices in five priority countries: Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. Country offices are run by local health professionals who are responsible for developing their own regional programs.

On October 9, the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital landed for the first time in Vietnam. Although ORBIS has worked with Vietnamese authorities and health officials over the past 10 years to support the ophthalmic community in Vietnam, this is the first time the Flying Eye Hospital has actually touched down in the country.

The Associated Press reported on its landing in Danang Vietnam, and the difference it made for patients:

“The results were immediate a day after the surgery when the bandage was removed. She will need glasses, but should now be able to read 5-point type.”

‘Saul!’ she shouted instantly when six fingers were held up 10 feet away.
‘I see everything clear now,’ she said, smiling. ‘I could never see my father so clear.’”


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