Technology and Innovation in Eye Care

With avoidable blindness set to triple by 2050, we need to reverse the trend before it’s too late. The old way simply isn’t working. We need to push boundaries and lead from the front of eye health innovation now, if we’re going to help ensure a brighter tomorrow.

A paper published by the Lancet in 2017 predicts that the number of blind and visually impaired people in the world is set to triple by 2050. Even though efforts from across the eye health sector have led to a decrease in the prevalence of blindness, global trends such as an ageing population, general population growth and the rise of diseases, such as diabetes, means we are facing a new blindness crisis.

At Orbis, we know the only way to counter this new threat is to collaborate with partners to pioneer the latest in cutting-edge technology. We believe this is the best way to enable us to share critical skills and knowledge with more eye health teams around the world, and ultimately, help us reach more people who are needlessly blind - more efficiently - than ever before.

A Cybersight live video consultation

Dr. Dan Neely discusses a case with Dr. Wael Hamoudeh in Syria

As Dr. Dan Neely, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Indiana, and Medical Ddvisor for Orbis puts it "You can only send people and equipment to so many places, but you can go everywhere, an unlimited number of times, with technology. That is the power and force-multiplier that technology provides us.

While the sector has been making good progress since the 1990s, reducing the prevalence of avoidable blindness from 4.58% to 3.37% in 2015, an ageing global population and the risk of a diabetes explosion on the horizon means global blindness is still set to triple by 2050. Using the latest technological advancements is one of the ways we can reverse this trend.


For more than 30 years the cornerstone of our work has been to train eye teams in order to improve the quality of care available around the world. We have a network of over 400 world-leading Volunteer Faculty members, more than 100 of whom are Canadian, who are the best in the business. But only by harnessing the latest advancements in internet and mobile technologies can we maximize their impact.

Here are a few of the ways we're using technology to fight the growing blindness crisis.


Through our award-winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight, we can make an impact in places where a physical presence simply isn't possible due to cost, logistics or security. With advanced online training tools and access to international expert faculty and trainers, Cybersight is a global platform that helps eye health professionals, regardless of where they practice.

At the click of a button, it allows our Volunteer Faculty to improve skills, collaborate on diagnosis and treatment of patients and connect with a truly global community of practice that includes technicians, nurses, optometrists and ophthalmologists.

In 2019 alone we trained more than 7,600 eye health professionals in 183 countries with Cybersight live teaching events. We also facilitated more than 1,800 patient consultations.

Cybersight is our award winning telemedicine platform


Our Flying Eye Hospital is not only packed with the latest medical equipment, it has some of the very latest training facilities too. The entire plane is linked up through an advanced audio visual system, meaning those in the classroom can watch surgeries happening in the operating theater live in 3D - making it as close to the real thing as looking down the microscope yourself.

CNBC visit the Flying Eye Hospital in 2017


Thanks to the generous support of Collins Aerospace, we have created a brand new simulation center and training program which combines the latest in simulation technology, virtual reality, and scientific, surgical and medical knowledge.

The simulation center on board the Flying Eye Hospital allows local eye teams to learn complex skills in a controlled environment before operating on patients. It breaks down a complex surgery into smaller parts, allowing local doctors to focus on a certain skill — something you can’t do with a human eye.

We use state-of-the-art simulation technology to increase opportunities for local doctors


We’re collaborating with Visulytix, an Artificial Intelligence company applying AI-powered software to bring sophisticated technology to help eye doctors diagnose diseases in communities around the world. The software enables eye doctors in low-resource countries to request a second opinion through our Cybersight platform.

Images are sent seamlessly through Cybersight to Visulytix’s cloud service and the AI system returns a report to Cybersight in just eight seconds with analysis of the retina image.

Our AI system analyzes images of the back of the eye taken with any standard retina camera or even mobile phones


BOOST (Better Operative Outcomes Software Tool) is a simple, free and user-friendly app designed to help monitor and improve cataract surgical outcomes. Developed in partnership with leading players in the eye care sector, the app takes eye care professionals through a step-by-step process to measure and analyze results by providing access to data in similar cases and making suggestions to correct issues and identify risks.

The app followed a discovery which showed that testing vision immediately after an operation is a good way of measuring the quality of the surgery.

You can only send people and equipment to so many places, but you can go everywhere, an unlimited number of times, with technology. That is the power and force-multiplier that technology provides us.

Dr. Dan Neely

Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Indiana, and Orbis Volunteer Faculty


We use Virtual Reality headsets to demonstrate surgical procedures in 3D, more closely replicating what a surgeon actually sees looking through the operating microscope. Surgical demonstrations on the Flying Eye Hospital are made available in the Cybersight library in 2D and 3D. The 3D versions can be viewed anywhere in the world using a smartphone and a VR headset, or even a simple cardboard viewer.

A local partner using virtual reality goggles for eye health training

Surgeries can be watched in Virtual Reality from anywhere in the world

We’d like to say a big thank you to our supporters and partners. It's only with their commitment that we're able to look for new ways to use technology to fight blindness in communities around the world.

Only by innovating will we be able to confront the blindness epidemic on the horizon.