EYE doctors would have to give up their practices or public hospital posts to volunteer for the world's only flying eye hospital, the Hong Kong Ophthalmological Society said. Society president Dr Ho Chi-kin said that because most local ophthalmologists were in private practice it would be very difficult for them to join Project Orbis. 'Doctors have to commit themselves to the project for at least six months and because most eye doctors here work alone in private practice it would be quite impossible for them to give that amount of time,' he said. Ophthalmologists working in the territory's public hospitals get only four weeks annual leave and so Dr Ho said it would also be extremely difficult for them to volunteer for Orbis without giving up their jobs. Last week, Orbis announced that it had failed to attract a single offer of help from eye doctors in the territory despite receiving millions of dollars in donations from the Hong Kong community. The project's flying eye hospital has helped restore the sight of 18,000 people in 70 countries while training 28,000 doctors and nurses in new skills. Orbis launched its new DC-10 plane in July and since then has been trying to recruit local ophthalmologic doctors and nurses, without success. But Dr Ho denied Hong Kong eye doctors were unwilling to volunteer their sight-saving skills to charitable organisations. 'It's not that ophthalmologists here don't want to do voluntary work, because many of them already do work for organisations including the Society for the Blind and the Hong Kong Eye Bank,' he said. 'Others provide cheap eye care for those who need it but can't afford it and sponsor doctors from developing countries to attend conferences concerning ophthalmology.' But Dr Ho said it might be possible to get some of Hong Kong's 120 or so eye doctors involved in shorter, off-the-plane programmes organised by Orbis.