Flying Eye Hospital Works to Prevent Blindness with Crestron A/V and Automation

Crestron donates $300,000 of DigitalMedia, Sonnex multi-room audio, touchscreens and more to Orbis International’s medical-equipped aircraft fighting blindness and training doctors in developing countries.


Did you know that up to 80 percent of blindness of preventable? And that 90 percent of those affected with blindness live in developing countries without access to the proper treatment?

This data is according to Bob Ranck, president & CEO of Orbis International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that aims to fight blindness in developing countries. The group travels via its Flying Eye Hospital to underserved areas to treat patients at risk of losing their sight, while also offering local doctors the chance to be trained from the plane. 

In 2013, when Orbis created its latest (at the time) Flying Eye Hospital, Crestron donated touchscreens, keypads, remotes and other automated healthcare technology to the military aircraft. The hospital included an operating theater, laser treatment room, communications center, recovery room, audio visual/IT room and a 46-seat classroom, all of which relied on Crestron technology.

Continuing its rich legacy of giving, Crestron recently signed on once again to outfit the next-generation Flying Eye Hospital with over $300,000 in A/V and automation solutions as well as integration services.

The new hospital sits on board an MD-10 aircraft. It was unveiled June 2 at an exclusive press event at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the first leg of a month-long tour of the United States, including stops in Sacramento, Memphis, Newark, Washington, D.C., and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Onboard, patients will find an ophthalmic training center, which hosts a 46-seat classroom, full surgical suite, operating theater, laser treatment room, communications center, recovery room, and audio-visual/IT room.


Go Inside the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital

Crestron touch screens located throughout the aircraft create a fully integrated atmosphere, including audio and visual distribution systems, multimedia processors, cameras and monitors. All of the inputs and monitor outputs are connected using Crestron DigitalMedia technology, allowing for any camera picture to be routed to any display. This provides total flexibility in the communication from room to room all over the aircraft.

A Crestron Sonnex multi-room audio system and Crestron speakers provide audio throughout the plane. From switchers to video systems, everything can be seamlessly controlled through a single Crestron touch screen.

“The Orbis model is to train local doctors, nurses and medical technicians to manage blindness in their own communities long after the Flying Eye Hospital has departed,” says Ranck. “Through Crestron’s incredibly generous donation we are able to enhance the teaching capabilities on our plane. Their technology enables a level of collaboration, communication, and learning that we would never have thought possible.”

“We are proud that Crestron’s technology is at the backbone of this extraordinary teaching facility, and that we are able to make a difference in so many lives,” says Randy Klein, CEO of Crestron.

Crestron’s work with Orbis was the passion project of the late George Feldstein, its founder and former Chairman, whose intense interest in both aviation and philanthropy made the Flying Eye Hospital a natural fit. A team from Crestron Services Provider, ControlWorks Consulting, provided programming, user interface design, consulting and commissioning services.