Orbis launched its work in Bolivia in 2017 with a new program focused on training the next generation of ophthalmologists, in partnership with the National Institute of Ophthalmology, in La Paz.

Success in Bolivia

Orbis's initial 2017 program focused on building a surgical simulation center and wet lab for manual small incision cataract (MSICS) training for residents and ophthalmologists at our partner hospital, National Institute of Ophthalmology. Thanks to our partners and donors, we have since extended ophthalmic training at the center to include techniques in phacoemulsification cataract surgery.

Simulation training is proven to effectively decrease complication rates, reduce surgical time and improve outcomes among a surgeon’s early surgical cases. This results in a better patient experience, cost savings and scalability, and will improve standards of eye care across Bolivia.

Impact In 2022

MSICS is a refined extracapsular cataract extraction technique where a small incision and foldable synthetic intraocular lens are used. Phacoemulsification uses an ultrasound probe to fragment the lens after making a small incision.

Phacoemulsification is the preferred method across the US and Europe due to the high success rate and quick recovery time, which is why Orbis is introducing this method in Bolivia.

Simulation is the best way to improve eye care around the world at scale

Key Achievements

Thanks to our partners and generous donors, Orbis has:

  • Helped establish the first and only simulation center for cataract training for residents at a public hospital
  • Increased access to phacoemulsification training for residents from public hospitals
  • Equipped partner hospital with supplies for cataract treatment and personal protection needs

What We're Doing Next

Through our partnership, we aim to continue strengthening the National Institute of Ophthalmology's existing residency program by enhancing the curriculum and providing critical resources for training and education.

Orbis has already published training curriculum for cataract surgery, and is now planning to roll out similar tools to help treat the 570,000 Bolivians living with low vision and to address the growing burden of retinopathy of prematurity. With support from partners and donors, we will utilize our online telemedicine platform, Cybersight, to deliver webinars and reinforce learning. We also plan to hold in-person training projects at local hospitals with our teams of world-leading Volunteer Faculty. This tailored "blended learning" approach is proven to be the best way to improve the quality of eye care available, at scale.

On top of training, there is also an urgent need to equip National Institute of Ophthalmology with the necessary tools to detect and treat retinopathy of prematurity and low vision, as well as ensure the simulation center has the capacity to receive residents from other public hospitals around Bolivia. This will help more eye teams get the training they need, and have the tools required, to deliver the care patients deserve.

Community outreach for both cataracts and refractive error is also critical for raising awareness of the importance of seeking eye care. Orbis is planning to support National Institute of Ophthalmology with logistics, training, and equipment in this area, with the goal of raising the number of surgeries and sight-saving interventions being sought.

You can help Orbis improve the quality of eye care available throughout Bolivia, by donating below.


  • National Institute of Ophthalmology (INO)
  • International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
  • Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)

Help us train the next generation of eye health professionals in Bolivia

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