NEWS | June 8, 2016

Orbis, UC Davis surgery team train on world's only Flying Eye Hospital

Editor's note:

Time lapsed video of plane set up:


Staff physicians and nurses from UC Davis and Orbis International, a global not for profit that brings the world together to fight blindness, are practicing their critical-care skills on board the new MD-10 Flying Eye Hospital, the world’s only accredited, mobile teaching eye hospital.

The third-generation Flying Eye Hospital is outfitted with special modules to perform eye surgeries. It combines the latest in avionics, hospital engineering, technology and clinical care to enable Orbis staff and volunteer physicians from UC Davis and other institutions to treat the leading causes of avoidable blindness, such as cataracts, diabetes-related conditions, glaucoma, strabismus and more.

Just as commercial airline pilots use simulators to review take-offs and landings, Orbis staff are using UC Davis' patient simulators on board the new aircraft to practice their clinical skills in addressing life-threatening medical emergencies. The mannequins use sophisticated models of physiology and pharmacology and have been programmed to exhibit a range of complications, from a reaction to an anesthetic drug to an irregular heart beat or cardiac arrest. The training session enables the team to practice common medical procedures, test patient flow and care-team responses so that they can become more familiar working in the new plane before it takes off on its first international program in Shenyang, China in September.

The hands-on simulation training on board the new plane reflects the strong partnership that UC Davis and Orbis have developed over the years to improve global eye health.

UC Davis faculty began volunteering on Orbis international programs in 2006, and since then, 12 UC Davis faculty and staff have participated in medical missions, traveling to China, Vietnam, Peru, Nepal, Indonesia, India, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Zambia and Panama. In 2014, UC Davis and Orbis expanded their partnership, exploring ways to broaden the use of Orbis’s Cybersight, a telemedicine technology to provide an online platform for medical training and consultation for local eye doctors in the developing world. The partnership also creates opportunities for physician and nurse education using simulation training, fellowships and related projects.

"The partnership with Orbis enables our physicians to provide better care," said Mark J. Mannis, professor and chair of the UC Davis Eye Center. "The multicultural setting and collaboration with global practitioners who may be addressing emerging medical conditions in their own patient populations such as Zika help to broaden our knowledge of diseases that affect us all as a global community."

For more than 30 years, Orbis staff physicians and nurses have worked with the best eye surgeons throughout the world who volunteer their time to provide both hands-on skills exchange and continuing mentorship online for local eye-care professionals in developing countries.

"As an academic partner for Orbis, UC Davis is working with us to increase access to quality eye care to transform lives," said Jonathan Lord, Global Medical Director at Orbis International. "By sharing best practices, participating in hands-on ophthalmology training and contributing to efforts that strengthens the health-care infrastructure in developing countries, we are working toward the common goal of preventing avoidable forms of blindness and visual impairments."

The next generation Flying Eye Hospital has increased audio visual capacity, including cutting-edge broadcasting and online technology, which will ensure more eye-care professionals than ever before can access training from anywhere in the world. It also includes an upgraded avionics package, which increases performance and range of the aircraft.

The patient simulators are an integral part of the UC Davis Center for Virtual Care’s approach to physician, nurse and emergency response team training. Training is typically offered at UC Davis’ state of the art facility where modern surgical and patient care areas provide authentic experiences for learning new skills and reviewing best practices to critical care scenarios. The facility includes a trauma bay, operating room, inpatient unit, six-bay simulation area, standardized patient exam rooms, debrief rooms, conference room, student carrels and equipment repair area. It features the latest educational simulators and task trainers and is accredited as a Level I Comprehensive Education Institute through the American College of Surgeons.

About Orbis

Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of blindness for over 30 years. Learn more about Orbis at and follow the organization's work on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About the UC Davis Eye Center

 UC Davis Eye Center aims to be the world's transformational leader in collaborative vision research and in the development of cures for blinding eye disease from cornea to cortex. For more information about the partnership with Orbis, visit UC Davis Health System's newsroom or the Eye Center online.