The Flying Eye Hospital takes off

Barbados: Flying Eye Hospital Program wrap up

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital leaves Barbados after a successful two week training program helping improve eye care across the Caribbean.

We had an amazing time working with local eye teams and the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies during our two-week program in May.

Supported by the Ministry of Health and hosted by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital the Flying Eye Hospital project strengthened the skills and capacity of eye teams from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia.

After consulting with the Ministry of Health the program focused on cataract, glaucoma, strabismus and retina diseases which we identified as the areas which we could have the biggest impact. 

Two Barbadian men stand by the Flying Eye Hospital, wearing eye patches

Two patients stand outside the Flying Eye Hospital, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Glaucoma, in particular, is one of the most common eye diseases in the region. According to the Barbados Eye Study in 1994, prevalence of open-angle glaucoma in people over 40 was among the highest in the world at 7%, with the majority (53%) of cases going undetected. Glaucoma affects 1 in 11 Afro-Caribbean people over the age of 50, and almost 1 in 6 of those over 70 years old.

During the first week of the project we focused on simulation training which combines the latest in simulation technology, virtual reality, and scientific, surgical and medical knowledge. These new methods of delivering hands-on training allowed local teams to practice complex surgical skills in a controlled environment before operating on patients. A big thanks to our partner, UTC Aerospace Systems, for providing us with this ground-breaking equipment. 

In those two weeks we provided training to more than 220 eye care professionals who will be able to pass on their learnings to other members of their team. We also examined around 100 patients and treated nearly 40 people with avoidable blindness.

We’d like to say a big thanks to all out partners for making us feel so welcome and, of course, our volunteers for giving up their free time to help share their skills and knowledge with colleagues from across the Caribbean. 

Meet the team of volunteer faculty

Dr Elizabeth Castro

Technical Support Specialist, Alco Laboratories Inc. California.

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Dr Alessia Adduci

Faculty Department of Anesthesia & Intensive Care, Catholic University of Rome

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Dr Nathan Schwarts

Red Lion Surgery Center, Philadelphia

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Dr Kakarla V. Chalam

Professor & Director of Retina, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, California.

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Dr Rudy Wagner

Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

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Dr Michael Vrabec

Clinical Instructor of Ophthalmology

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Dr Elethia Dean

Nursing Certification, Consultant, ASC Compliant LLC.

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Dr William Dean

Clinical Research Fellow, International Center for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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