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San Diego doctor boards flying eye hospital to help patients in need

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Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 21:30:56-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A flying eye hospital is bringing medical care to countries in need.

One of the doctors who boarded the Orbis International plane in November is from San Diego.

“Orbis International is a unique nonprofit focused on training eye surgeons around the world in advanced techniques of surgery," said Dr. Srini Iyengar, an Encinitas-based Oculoplastic Surgeon who volunteers for Orbis.

The ultimate goal is to reduce blindness in countries with inadequate access to care.

“In the world, preventable blindness is something that is a big concern, not only for the individual but also populations. Every blind person takes two people out of the workforce, not just them, but also someone who is caring for them," said Dr. Iyengar.

The nonprofit just returned from Ghana, where 4 out of 5 people are blind from preventable causes.

The plane has an operating room in front and a classroom in the back.

“Local doctors, they come to the airplane, and they sit in the front seats and watch on the screen what’s going on in the back, and so they’re watching live surgery being performed," said Dr. Iyengar.

The local doctors can then train more eye professionals in their country, helping people long after the plane takes off.

Dr. Iyengar says both kids and adults receive care. For many patients, it's the first time they've seen a plane.

Orbis International relies on volunteers and private donations.

FedEx donated the plane.