How Orbis is Bringing the World Together to Fight Blindness

Apr 25, 2017 11:10 AM ET

Imagine the world around you in darkness. For millions of people this darkness is a reality. Blindness takes away so much more than vision. It can impede your ability to gain an education. It can prevent you from finding employment. It can lead you and your family into a life of poverty.

Currently 285 million people around the world are visually impaired. Of that number, 246 million have low vision and 39 million are blind. 

Visual Impairment = Low Vision + Blindness

Low vision taken together with blindness represents all visual impairment. Moderate visual impairment combined with severe visual impairment is grouped under the term “low vision”.

However, 90% of all visual impairment can be PREVENTED or CURED

How Orbis Works:

Orbis is working toward solving this problem by providing access to quality eye care in the developing world. Providing access to eye care is one of the most effective and cost-efficient paths for reversing the cycle of poverty. Preventing and treating visual impairment gives people their independence back. It allows them to become more active in their community and to contribute more to their family and their society.

Lack of adequate training for healthcare professionals is a problem around the word. Providing first-rate training is essential to solving this problem, and it's a primary component of our efforts. We focus on increasing the skills and knowledge of our partners, and we take a team approach. We don’t just train ophthalmologists, but the entire eye health team. A team approach ultimately affects the entire eye health system and transfers from one doctor or nurse to an entire team of eye care professionals. This improves the quality of patient care standards and clinical efficiency — leading to better quality patient outcomes.

More than 400 leading ophthalmic surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and biomedical engineers from 32 countries volunteer as Orbis trainers using a blended learning approach.

  • We train local physicians, nurses and technicians in developing countries and leave a lasting footprint everywhere we go
  • We treat patients with a variety of eye health issues to preserve and restore sight
  • We expand access by funding local hospitals and clinics and developing rural referral networks to treat and prevent visual impairment
  • We stay connected through our digital tele-medicine platform, Cybersight, which connects eye care professionals whom we train with tools, information and their counterparts abroad via mobile technology

When sight is restored to people who are visually impaired, or when blindness is prevented, it doesn't just improve the lives of individuals, it strengthens their communities. Men and women can return to work, children go back to school, and people can contribute to their community helping to build a better future for their families.

Orbis's Impact:

Since 1982 Orbis has visited 92 countries.

In 2016 Orbis:

  • Trained 1,834 doctors and 38,487 medical professionals
  • Completed 3,532,737 eye screenings and exams
  • Performed 82,587 sight-saving surgeries

How to Help:


Individuals are welcome to donate through the following channels:

  • General Donations: Used for specialized programs that create a lasting difference in the lives of blind and visually impaired women, children and men in the developing word. 
  • Monthly Giving: Become a Partner in Sight. This is the easiest, most cost-effective way for you to support Orbis and help us create a world free from avoidable blindness. 
  • Matching Gifts: If your employer matches your gift, you can increase the impact of your support. 


Corporate partners support Orbis through:

  • Unrestricted Funding: Funding used for operational costs.
  • Restricted Funding: Funding used for a specific project, program or capital project.
  • Gift-in-Kind: Donations of goods or services.
  • Event Sponsorship: Support the Orbis gala held annually in New York City

Support Orbis's work through employee giving:

As Orbis's workplace giving partner, America’s Charities can help your company design and implement a program centered on supporting their work - through workplace giving campaigns, employee fundraising, cause-focused signature programs, volunteerism, Dollars-for-Doers, In-Kind Giving and other employee engagement and philanthropic initiatives. Click here to request a demo and learn how we can help you do this.