Heroes of Orbis: Dr. Brian Leonard

With more than 70 Orbis programs under his belt, Dr. Brian Leonard is one of the organization’s longest serving volunteer doctors. Based in Ottawa, ON, Dr. Leonard joined Orbis's Volunteer Faculty in 1984. Since then, he has visited locations around the world to support our training programs.

A frequent flier on the Flying Eye Hospital, Dr. Leonard says that his first volunteer experience with Orbis opened his eyes about the positive impact the organization has around the world.

“In the early 1980s, I received a phone call from Orbis in New York. They were looking for a Canadian retina specialist to do a last minute program in Abu Dhabi. I’d never heard of Orbis and I’d barely heard of Abu Dhabi but I was very intrigued by the conversation. So I went to Abu Dhabi and met up with the Flying Eye Hospital and it looked just like another DC-8 that was common at the time. But I walked on that airplane and met the most amazing people and saw the most amazing concept. It was immediately apparent to me that I would be doing this again.”

For Dr. Leonard, creating sustainability in the countries where he volunteers is critical. He wants the eye care professionals he trains to use these new tools and techniques to improve care long after Orbis has left the area.

Dr. Brian Leonard

The empha­sis on the trainees is so impor­tant. When I come home peo­ple ask How many peo­ple did you oper­ate on?’ but that’s not the ques­tion. They should be ask­ing How many peo­ple did you men­tor?’, What impact did you have on their sys­tem?’, What will be their future impact on eye-care and blind­ness in their region?’ Those are the questions.

For many people throughout the world, access to adequate eye-care is incredibly difficult. Many are unable to visit an ophthalmologist or to afford the cost. “People in the developing countries suffer from the same conditions that we have here in our big, rich, free beautiful country; cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment. These are the things that cause the big numbers of needless blindness but are easily treatable,” says Dr. Leonard.

Dr. Brian Leonard

Thanks to the pre­vi­ous work of Orbis, many coun­tries now don’t need the Fly­ing Eye Hos­pi­tal, but there are still many that do. It is such a pow­er­ful men­tor­ing tool and advo­ca­cy tool.

With your support and donations, our Canadian volunteers are able to make a significant impact throughout the world.


Support Orbis and help mentor doctors and advocate for quality eye-care throughout the world.

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