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ORBIS International's Flying Eye Hospital Brings Sight Saving Skills and Technology to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

NEW YORK, July 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- ORBIS and its global team of volunteer eye care specialists completed an intensive three-week program in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (June 19 - July 7) aboard ORBIS International's signature Flying Eye Hospital – a state-of-the-art hospital with wings. The mission was supported by Alcon Inc., the global leader in eye care, and included a three-week ophthalmic skills exchange and surgical program through the one-of-a-kind DC-10 aircraft.

This ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital (FEH) Program marks its sixth mission in Mongolia.  Local eye care professionals of all disciplines attended an ORBIS skills transfer training course designed to address the country's eye health needs.

Blindness in Mongolia

According to the World Health Organization, North-East Asia has a relatively high prevalence of blindness, estimated at 1.4%. Together, adult cataract and glaucoma account for more than two-thirds of the country's blindness, while cornea conditions account for 7.2% of adult blindness.

The program provided training for ophthalmologists, biomedical engineers, anesthesiologists and nurses, while advocating for increased public awareness of eye care issues in Mongolia. In addition, Alcon engineers volunteered their time to work side-by-side with Mongolian medical technicians to properly fix and maintain critical ophthalmic equipment within their hospitals.

"Alcon is committed to the development of local, sustainable eye care services made available through well-trained eye care professionals. Through our 30-year partnership with ORBIS, Alcon is able to contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology in the developing world through the ORBIS skills-exchange programs and partnerships with medical facilities worldwide," said Sara Woodward, Director of Corporate Giving at Alcon.  

Alcon has partnered with ORBIS for more than 30 years and is committed to providing better vision and eye care services to all people. Alcon is an ORBIS global sponsor and provides support for the Flying Eye Hospital and the India Childhood Blindness Initiative. Alcon provides grants as well as medical gifts in kind such as state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, pharmaceuticals and supplies.

ORBIS was invited to Ulaanbaatar by the Mongolian Ophthalmic Association and hosted by "Hospital Number One," the first government-founded hospital in Mongolia, and the "Mother and Child Hospital," the only hospital in Mongolia that specializes in pediatrics. The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program focused on subspecialty training in pediatric cataract and strabismus, glaucoma, cornea, medical retina as well as advanced ophthalmology training, including phacoemulsification cataract surgery and ocular oncology. The ORBIS volunteer medical team transferred critical sight-saving skills to more than 300 local eye care professionals using hands-on surgical training, live surgical demonstrations, lectures and workshops.

"ORBIS and Alcon share a common vision for a world in which avoidable blindness is eliminated. ORBIS works in developing countries to save sight through hands on training, public health education, improved access to quality eye care, and partnering with local health organizations to prevent and treat blindness," says Barbara A. DeBuono, MD, MPH, President and CEO of ORBIS International. "ORBIS's global partnership with Alcon, which began nearly 30 years ago, enables ORBIS to provide high quality medical care to patients and the proper training and resources to local medical professionals, so that they can expand their skill sets and provide improved eye care in their respective countries."

Some Facts on the Prevention of Blindness Worldwide:

According to the WHO, there are more than 39 million blind people in the world – of which 90% live in the developing world. Globally, about 85% of all visual impairment and 80% of blindness could be prevented or cured if there was equal access to high-quality eye care.

Key areas of significant progress made by ORBIS and other organizations in treating and preventing blindness on a global scale include:

  • Further development of eye health care services, which has led to increased availability and affordability;
  • Increased commitment to prevention and cure from national leaders, medical professionals and private and corporate partners;
  • Higher awareness and use of eye health care services by patients and the general population; and
  • Implementation of effective eye health strategies to eliminate infectious causes of vision loss.

ORBIS's History

ORBIS has been working in the developing world for nearly 30 years, providing high quality eye care to patients and educating local doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists.  ORBIS began its work with the world's only Flying Eye Hospital, which has travelled to more than 88 countries and trained thousands of local eye care professionals.  In 1998, ORBIS expanded its mission to include permanent in-country programs in China, Bangladesh, India, Africa and Vietnam.  This expansion, combined with the work of the Flying Eye Hospital, has resulted in over 15 million beneficiaries worldwide.

About ORBIS International

ORBIS International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. ORBIS provides the tools, training and technology necessary for local partners to assess their needs and develop workable and lasting solutions to the tragedy of unnecessary blindness. By building their long-term capabilities, ORBIS helps its partner institutions take action to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable. To learn more about ORBIS, please visit

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