On World Sight Day, celebrating a sight-saving partnership
by Maurice Geary, Director of the Flying Eye Hospital at eye care nonprofit Orbis International
Today is World Sight Day, an annual event that raises awareness of global eye health. For those of us at Orbis, a global eye care nonprofit working to end avoidable blindness, it’s also a day to share our appreciation for the generous supporters and sponsors who make our work possible.
For more than 30 years, FedEx has aided our mission to end avoidable blindness, and we want to thank them. Through contributions to our one-of-a-kind Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited teaching hospital on a plane, they’ve helped ensure ophthalmic training and care have been available to underserved communities everywhere. In fact, FedEx donated the MD-10 aircraft that serves as the third-generation Flying Eye Hospital, and the aircraft is flown by FedEx pilots who volunteer their time to navigate the plane around the world on Orbis projects.
Add on the provision of aircraft parts, maintenance, and pilot training, and simply put, the Flying Eye Hospital could not carry out its sight-saving work without the support of FedEx. In my role as Director of the Flying Eye Hospital, I’ve seen this time and again, including during the pandemic, when FedEx’s contributions helped us continue virtual training, even while in-person training was postponed.
Most recently, FedEx sponsored a 10-week virtual Flying Eye Hospital project that trained eye care professionals in Vietnam on treating glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness and vision loss that is rising in the country. As Vietnam continues to face shortages of eye care professionals and limited access to quality eye care, it’s imperative that local doctors receive quality training so they can better serve their communities. By helping us equip eye care teams with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to tackle vision loss from glaucoma, FedEx has empowered those teams to treat their patients more effectively, creating brighter futures for thousands of people.
The project, launched in May and delivered in Vietnamese, consisted of pre-learning courses on our telemedicine platform, Cybersight, interactive live lectures delivered by our Volunteer Faculty (medical experts), and cutting-edge simulation training. Simulation training is a particularly innovative skill-building solution as it allows surgeons to practice their techniques on manikins or other devices before performing operations on real patients, ensuring better surgical outcomes.
We are so proud of the positive impact FedEx helped us have in Vietnam, and in China, where they also sponsored a virtual Flying Eye Hospital project in 2021. Thankfully, on this World Sight Day, we can celebrate the Flying Eye Hospital retaking to the skies and once again bringing in-person training to eye care teams everywhere, alongside our ongoing virtual projects. All of these projects change lives, and we are grateful to FedEx for their ongoing support that allows us to make a positive difference.
***Photos courtesy of Orbis