Flying eye hospital.

Flying Eye Hospital Lands in Barbados

May 2018

The Flying Eye Hospital has landed in Barbados for its two-week regional conference with the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies. This is the first time the plane has ever touched down in Barbados.

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness over 1.1 million people are affected by vision impairment in the Caribbean. Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness in the world and in the Caribbean - accounting for at least 50% of all blindness. Glaucoma is also one of the most common irreversible eye diseases in the region.

According to the Barbados Eye Study in 1994, the prevalence of open-angle glaucoma in Afro-Caribbeans over 40 was among the highest in the world at 7%, with the majority (53%) of cases undetected. Glaucoma affects 1 in 11 Afro-Caribbeans over 50, and almost 1 in 6 of people over 70 years old.

Diabetes has become increasingly common in the Caribbean due to lifestyle changes. As its prevalence increases, so do the complications affecting the eyes, including cataract, diabetic retinopathy and neovascular glaucoma. Nearly one-third of the Caribbean's diabetic population is affected with eye disease, mainly diabetic retinopathy, according to the 2017 International Diabetes Foundation Diabetes Atlas. Despite the high prevalence figures, eye screening is not routinely performed and patients often present with advanced stages of these diseases.

According to the Barbados Eye Study in 1994, the prevalence of open-angle glaucoma in Afro-Caribbeans over 40 was among the highest in the world at 7%, with the majority (53%) of cases undetected. Glaucoma affects 1 in 11 Afro-Caribbeans over 50, and almost 1 in 6 of people over 70 years old.

Flying Eye Hospital In Barbados.

Local eye teams boarding the Flying Eye Hospital for training in Barbados

The Flying Eye Hospital has a long history of working in the Caribbean since its inception in 1982. This is the 24th project in the Caribbean, and the first in Barbados. The focus of the two-week regional conference is to strengthen the skills eye health professionals in the Caribbean including Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, Haiti, St. Vincent and St. Lucia, focusing on cataract, glaucoma, strabismus and retina diseases.

From 2017 – 2020, our efforts are focused on building existing relationships, documenting solid results delivered in projects, and expanding and scaling in countries where we have current projects, including Guyana, Peru and Bolivia. We will continue our strong regional partnerships with Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies, Pan American Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

Flying Eye Hospital Classroom.

One of our Volunteer Faculty giving training on board the Flying Eye Hospital in Barbados

Orbis also provides ongoing support for the annual Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies conference, including speakers and funding of allied health and nursing workshops; collaborating on a pilot nursing initiative in Trinidad; and working closely with the residency directors at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica.

Lectures and surgeries on board the Flying Eye Hospital will be broadcast live to remote participants around the world via Cybersight, our award-winning telemedicine platform.

We're really excited to have the opportunity to continue our great work in the Caribbean all thanks to your support! 

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