Orbis Launches New Fund to Invest in Tech & Innovation

December 2019

With global blindness and visual impairment expected to triple by 2050, we’ve launched a new fund designed to help us invest in technology and innovation to reach more people - more efficiently - than ever before.

Orbis has long been investing in technology and innovation through our Cybersight telemedicine platform, artificial intelligence software, simulation centers and virtual reality.

We know that technology is the best way to both improve the quality of, and dramatically scale up access to, medical training for eye teams around the world.

Thanks to the generosity of U.S. philanthropists, Susan and John A. Sobrato, who donated $1 million towards the launch of the new Silicon Valley Orbis Innovation Fund, we can continue to scale up the impact of our work and help fight the blindness crisis that's on our doorstep.

Practice makes perfect: Our simulation center improves the quality of training available to eye health teams

Hundreds of millions of people go through life facing blindness and visual impairment simply because they can’t get the eye care they need. We have an opportunity to change that. Training entire eye care teams – everyone from health workers in rural clinics to eye surgeons in urban centers – is the best, most sustainable way to ensure no one needlessly lives a life without sight.

Bob Ranck

President & CEO of Orbis International

How We're Innovating to Fight Blindness

The Innovation Fund will help expand the reach and impact of our work in the following ways:

TELEMEDICINE:

One of the most important goals of the Fund is to develop a robust mobile app through Cybersight - our virtual clinical training platform - because mobile phones are far more prevalent than computers in many of the countries where we work.

This will provide even more doctors and clinicians – including those in remote and conflict-affected areas – with access to training and virtual mentoring. The Fund will also cover the development of new Cybersight courses, as well as enhancements to the platform.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE:

A new artificial intelligence tool on Cybersight can detect common eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, in seconds by examining digital photographs of the back of the eye.

This is game-changing for increasing access to early detection, which is critical to prevent treatable eye conditions from leading to blindness. Refinements needed to further increase the accuracy of the technology and the number of conditions it can detect will be made possible through the Fund.

Slideshow: Embracing technology to finesse the skills of our partners in Latin America.

SIMULATION:

Just as pilots learn to fly planes through simulation training, our simulation training program uses virtual reality, cutting-edge prosthetics, and highly sophisticated, life-like mannequins so that eye care teams can build their skills and confidence safely before progressing to real-life surgeries.

Simulation training has been 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 improved standards of care.

VIRTUAL REALITY:

We’re teaming up with FundamentalVR, to develop a touch-sensitive, virtual reality training platform that will allow ophthalmology students to practice procedures on their own, without a professor present, on what feels like actual human tissue.

It’s the world’s first-ever technology of its kind to use low-cost, off-the-shelf hardware, which will make it available at a fraction of the cost of existing surgical simulators. The platform will particularly benefit doctors in places where previous simulators were too big or expensive to be deployed, enhancing the quality of ophthalmology practice globally.

Transform Lives Today

For nearly four decades, the cornerstone of our work has been teaching and training eye teams around the world. But only by embracing technology and innovation will we be able reach more people, with better and more advanced training, to help us fight the crisis on our doorstep.

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