Orbis and UC Davis partner to train Latin American eye care teams

ByMartha R. Camara

Oct 10, 2022

As World Sight Day approaches, global nonprofit eye care organization Orbis International and UC Davis Health today announce the launch of a two-week training project aboard the Flying Eye Hospital. , a fully accredited eye teaching hospital onboard aircraft. Orbis clinical staff and volunteer faculty (medical experts) along with physicians and staff from UC Davis Health will share their knowledge with nearly 50 ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents, nurses and biomedical engineers from Bolivia, Chile and Peru, helping them learn skills to fight preventable blindness in their communities.

Ophthalmologists and ophthalmology residents participating in the training will hone their skills using state-of-the-art ophthalmic surgical simulation training technology at Flying Eye Hospital, currently located at Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View, California.

Nurses and biomedical engineers will undergo hands-on training at the UC Davis Health Center for Simulation and Education Enhancement, a state-of-the-art facility focused on supporting interprofessional medical education and research activities, in Sacramento, California. Simulation training allows mobile eye care teams to build confidence in a training environment before moving on to actual surgical procedures.

Latin American nurses and biomedical engineers will receive hands-on simulation training at UC Davis Health.

“Orbis has a long history of training eyecare professionals in Latin America. After delivering virtual trainings throughout the pandemic in the region, we are excited to welcome participants back for in-person training aboard the Flying Eye Hospital,” said Derek Hodkey, President and CEO. from Orbis International. “This project represents a wonderful opportunity to provide quality hands-on training through simulation as a means to combat preventable blindness around the world.”

“At UC Davis Health, we are committed to health equity and positive patient outcomes everywhere,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health. “As a nationally ranked teaching hospital, an important part of what we do is to share our treatment techniques and medical research with other providers. This partnership with Orbis will provide training to improve eye health and help prevent blindness in places where access to care is limited and providers cannot easily travel to California. We are excited to share our expertise in this way and bring the training to places where it will help patients around the world.

David Lubarsky

This partnership with Orbis will provide training to improve eye health and help prevent blindness in places where access to care is limited and providers cannot easily travel to California. »David Lubarsky

Learning surgical skills for cataract extraction will be a major focus of training for ophthalmologists and ophthalmology residents. Cataract is the main cause of blindness in Bolivia and Peru, although it can be treated with an operation which can take as little as ten to fifteen minutes. Participants will also learn how to treat other sight-threatening conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration, the second and third most common causes of blindness in Bolivia and Peru, respectively.

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 eyecare professionals. This helps ensure continuity and local access to eye care in their home country.

Nurses will be trained in simulated emergency scenarios, patient recovery, operating room procedures and sterilization practices. Additionally, nurses will receive eye bank orientation and gain hands-on experience in corneal tissue assessment at the Sierra Donor Services Eye Bank. Senior nurses will also participate in a train-the-trainer course integrated into the nursing education curriculum. Biomedical engineers and technicians will be trained in the maintenance and repair of ophthalmic equipment. Part of this training will include a workshop led by biomedical engineers from Alcon, a long-time supporter of Orbis.

A man and woman wearing green medical scrubs stand in front of a white airplane with the word
UC Davis Professor James Brandt, left, is a glaucoma expert and longtime Orbis volunteer.

Providing sight-saving care to communities in need

This year, Orbis celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Flying Eye Hospital’s first flight. Since 1982, three generations of the Flying Eye Hospital have trained with eye care teams in more than 95 countries around the world. In 2020, Orbis redesigned Flying Eye Hospital in-person trainings as virtual trainings to ensure eye care teams can still access critical training safely during the pandemic. Orbis reached nine countries in 2020 and 34 countries in 2021 through Flying Eye Hospital virtual projects. As the aircraft has returned to in-person programming, the virtual model developed by Orbis is used in conjunction with in-person training, a concept known as “blended learning”, to ensure participants can maximize time with their mentors, continuing their education after the plane leaves and more.

Worldwide, 1.1 billion people live with vision loss and 90% of cases are completely preventable. Nine out of ten people living with vision loss live in low- and middle-income countries, where it is often difficult or impossible to access quality eye care. An effective and sustainable solution to this challenge is to ensure that eye care professionals in these countries can access quality eye care training, developing the skills they need to provide quality eye care to patients in their communities.

Over the past four decades, Orbis has performed tens of millions of eye screenings and performed eye surgeries and laser treatments for hundreds of thousands of patients. Orbis has also trained hundreds of thousands of eyecare professionals at all levels, including tens of thousands of physicians. Orbis-trained individuals then provide sight-saving care in their communities and, in many cases, train eyecare professionals themselves.

About the UC Davis Eye Center

The UC Davis Eye Center provides world-class eye care, pioneers collaborative vision research, and trains the next generation of specialists and investigators to become leaders in the Sacramento area and beyond. of the. The Eye Center team aims to transform eye care and develop treatments for blinding eye diseases, from the cornea to the cortex. To learn more, visit the website.

About Orbis

Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has pioneered the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness for four decades. Orbis transforms lives by providing the skills, resources and knowledge needed to provide accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners, including hospitals, universities, government agencies and ministries of health, Orbis provides practical training in ophthalmology, strengthens health infrastructure and advocates for the prioritization of eye health in programs. of public health. Orbis operates the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited eye teaching hospital aboard MD-10 aircraft, and an award-winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight. For the past ten consecutive years, Orbis has earned the coveted four-star rating from Charity Navigator for its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, placing Orbis in the top 3% of US charities. For the past two years, Orbis has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. In 2022, Orbis earned “Accredited Charity” status from the Better Business Bureau by meeting the 20 Standards of Accountability for Charities. To learn more, visit the website.

About Sierra Donor Services Eye Bank

Sierra Donor Services Eye Bank (SDSEB) is a non-profit donor network that coordinates eye retrieval, treatment, and distribution in the states of California, Nevada, and Tennessee. The main objective of the SDSEB is to “save and improve lives”. They do this by fostering an environment where selfless professionals are engaged in life-changing work; their performance is measured by the impact they have on those who make transplantation possible and those whose lives are improved by these donations. By supporting a local focus on donors, donor families and the lives of those affected, being a stable member of the community and putting patients first, the SDSEB can maximize the gift of sight. To learn more, visit the website.