If you didn’t already know, an Eye Hospital is currently sitting on the tarmac at Grantley Adam’s International Airport in the form of an MD-10 aircraft called Orbis.
In this U.S-accredited hospital, you can find 9 doctors from all over the world who volunteer alongside a team of nurses and engineers to train local practitioners in the prevention and treatment of eye disease. This training is hands-on. That means surgeries and treatments are conducted on patients on-board the plane while other ophthalmologists observe.
When I arrived at the airport I was greeted by the lovely Celia Yeung. She took us right on board and gave us a full tour of the air-craft.
Since I’ve started working in the Caribbean I’ve seen more glaucoma and diabetic eye disease than I ever did in the United Kingdom, and I was happy to see these conditions were a top priority for Orbis. Upon boarding, Celia provided us with leaflets about the Orbis Project which specifically addressed both of these conditions, highlighting their prevalence in Barbados and also providing a concise management plan for early detection and prevention.
The front of the plane was configured into a lecture theater. This was used to give PowerPoint presentations as well as televise surgeries. I arrived to see a squint surgery being performed on the big screen in real time.
The middle of the plane had a “Laser Room”. It’s here that leaks in the retina can be stopped with a laser, preventing damage to the back of the eye (which is common in diabetes).
The very back was my favourite part of the plane – the surgery theater and recovery rooms. Here you could watch the surgeons in action from the sidelines. It was equipped with oxygen supplies, stretchers and loads of other equipment. This equipment would be packed during the flight and assembled on landing.
Within half an hour of arriving I saw patients receive treatment for strabismus, diabetic retinopathy and advanced glaucoma.
Overall, saying I was impressed would be an understatement. This establishment is doing an amazing job and it’s really making a difference. I look forward to seeing how it influences the optical community on the island.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Celia for showing us around and being such an informed host, and another thank you to good ol’ Kim Toppin for linking me up with this experience. If you would like to find out more about Orbis and their trip to Barbados, click here.
Orbis was invited by the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies. They have been to 78 countries since 1982 at an average of 5-6 countries a year and their team is diverse and multi-lingual. If you would like to help this worthy cause, click here to donate or show your support.