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World's Only Flying Eye Hospital Provides Eye Care To Those In Need

"A 15-minute surgery is all most of these people need to restore their sight."

The nonprofit Orbis International is using an unconventional method to deliver eye care ― a rehabbed cargo plane.

The Flying Eye Hospital, a program that’s been in place since the 1970s, is a fully equipped medical facility that travels to developing countries, where it both offers vision services to patients and trains local medical practitioners.

The need for eye care services in developing countries is dire. Up to 80 percent of visual impairments are considered avoidable or treatable, but a lack of resources often prevents people from getting necessary care.

“A 15-minute surgery is all most of these people need to restore their sight,” Orbis’ global medical director Dr. Jonathan Lord said. “And if you dealt with giving people glasses and dealing with cataracts, nearly two-thirds of the world’s avoidable blindness would disappear.”

In the past year, Orbis has treated over two million people and trained more than 30,000 health care professionals.

“We give [medical practitioners] the confidence that when we’re gone, they can keep operating,” Orbis CEO Bob Ranck said. “When we pack up and leave, the last child who didn’t get surgery doesn’t have to cry, because there’s somebody left behind who can treat him.”

This video was produced by Felicia Kelley and Becca Halperin.

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