New England College of Optometry (NECO) and Orbis International (Orbis) are pleased to announce their formal partnership to address the global unmet need for refractive and low vision services, with the goal of reducing avoidable visual impairment in low-income regions of the world. NECO prepares students for careers as an eye care provider, educator, and innovator through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences. Orbis is an international non-profit committed to the elimination of avoidable blindness through healthcare provider training.
This partnership between Orbis and NECO will expand Orbis’s impact through its Flying Eye Hospital, hospital-based trainings, community partnerships, and telehealth programs. Both groups will work together to help address the challenge of uncorrected refractive error, currently responsible for 43% of the world’s visual impairment. Refractive errors are caused by the shape of the eye preventing light from focusing correctly on the retina. Often, refractive errors are easily treated with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery to improve vision.
Through this collaboration, NECO will develop and implement optometry training as part of on-site joint programs with Orbis and online learning through Cybersight, Orbis’s virtual training and mentorship portal. NECO faculty now volunteer with Orbis’s hands-on, global educational training programs in hospital settings. These outreach programs are designed to help local doctors learn new techniques, analyze and diagnose challenging patient cases, and improve the quality of care they provide.
Additionally, NECO faculty and volunteers will provide online mentoring, telehealth consultations, and education through Cybersight, which leverages cloud-based technology to provide eye health professionals access to expert educators from around the world and online training tools such as live lectures and interactive case management.
This formal collaboration solidifies the growing relationship between NECO and Orbis International. It allows Orbis to significantly increase its impact in the world of vision care services and allows NECO to expand its influence in international eye care. In 2016, optometric faculty from the College participated in Orbis’s Flying Eye Hospital project to help local eye care practitioners in Shenyang, China address the myopia epidemic by providing training in orthokeratology. In 2017, NECO faculty will be participating in other Orbis projects in China, Zambia, Cameroon, Bangladesh, and India to share their expertise in low vision, contact lenses, and pediatrics through direct training to local practitioners and medical experts.
President Clifford Scott, OD, MPH notes, “the exquisite fit of these two respected organizations will provide a template for other vision and eye care training programs across the globe.”
Commenting on the partnership, Bob Ranck, President & CEO of Orbis International said, “We’re looking forward to working with NECO to help address the enormous but solvable challenge of uncorrected refractive error that affects so many people around the world.”
About New England College of Optometry
New England College of Optometry, NECO, is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. For over 120 years, the New England College of Optometry has been educating optometrists and leaders in the field. Originally founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences. Providing care and clinical placements throughout a broad clinical network, NECO is committed to providing access to high-quality, affordable eye care throughout the community to children and adults, as well as individuals with disabilities, those needing low vision/geriatric services, and individuals who are homeless.
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Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of blindness for over 30 years. Orbis transforms lives by delivering the skills, resources and knowledge needed to deliver accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners including hospitals, universities, government agencies and ministries of health, Orbis provides hands-on ophthalmology training, strengthens healthcare infrastructure and advocates for making eye health a priority. Orbis operates the world's only Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft. To learn more, please visit www.orbis.org.
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