September 30, 2009 12:30 ET

ORBIS and Alcon Launch Pediatric Eye Care Program in India, While Gearing Up for World Sight Day in Bangladesh

Flying Eye Hospital Program to Address the Growing Problem of Childhood Blindness in India and Gender and Eye Care in Bangladesh

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - September 30, 2009) - ORBIS International's flagship Flying Eye Hospital arrived in Jaipur, India with its international team of volunteer eye care specialists and global sponsor Alcon, Inc. (NYSE: ACL), the world's leading eye care company. Invited by the Ministry of Health Services, hosted by the Sahai Eye Hospital and Research Centre, S.M.S Medical College and generously sponsored by Alcon, ORBIS is conducting an intensive two-week program (Sep. 22 - Oct. 3) focusing on multiple subspecialty training and equipping the next generation of Indian eye care professionals and biomedical engineers with the continuing medical education required to address the country's dire eye health needs. The program in India is a prelude to ORBIS and Alcon's annual collaboration to promote World Sight Day -- an international day of awareness to focus attention on avoidable blindness and visual impairment -- on October 8th, bringing much needed attention to this year's theme, Gender and Eye Care.

"India accounts for nearly 20 percent of all blind children worldwide," said Dr. Hunter Cherwek, medical director, ORBIS International. "With the sponsorship of Alcon, this Flying Eye Hospital program complements ORBIS' Childhood Blindness Initiative in India, a program that aims to develop 50 pediatric ophthalmology centers across India by 2015, and prepares us to bring the issue of gender and eye care to the forefront of our program in Bangladesh during World Sight Day."

The Flying Eye Hospital program in India focuses on pediatric ophthalmology including glaucoma, cataracts, strabismus (squint) as well as adult cornea, oculoplastics and cataracts -- the leading cause of blindness worldwide. During the course of the program, the ORBIS medical team will transfer critical sight-saving skills to approximately 200 eye care professionals from local hospitals using hands-on surgical training, live surgical demonstrations, lectures and workshops. In addition to sponsoring the India program, Alcon engineers will volunteer their time to host a 3-day workshop for local engineers and other medical technicians on how to properly fix and maintain much needed opthalmic equipment.

"Alcon is proud to contribute our professional industry expertise by helping to train local biomedical engineers, and supporting their critical role in the improvement of ophthalmic care," said Sara Woodward, director of corporate giving, Alcon. "Through ORBIS' skills-exchange program and partnerships with medical facilities worldwide, we are able to contribute to the advancement of ophthalmology in the developing world and help medical professionals and patients in countries such as India and Bangladesh."

Immediately following the India program, the Flying Eye Hospital will travel to Bangladesh for another two-week skills exchange program and to promote World Sight Day, bringing the theme of gender to the forefront of its mission. With Alcon, ORBIS will organize specialized eye camps for women and girls, launch community advocacy programs and promote this important issue through a series of EyeReports ( -- live reports from the field demonstrating the need and the process in which ORBIS delivers its programs.

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