Gateway Gazette

New Simulator an Eye-opening Experience for Residents

Technology helps to train the next generation of ophthalmologists

CALGARY – An eye surgery simulator is allowing local ophthalmology residents to practise performing life-changing eye procedures and prepare them for real-life scenarios.

Eyesi is a state-of-the-art virtual reality device that simulates a variety of eye surgery scenarios, including cataract, intraocular and retinal surgeries. It is used to train clinicians, primarily ophthalmology residents, before they perform these procedures on real patients.

“Eyesi simulates the look and feel of eye surgery for our residents and gives them a unique opportunity to fine-tune their skills before they experience the real thing,” says Dr. Chris Hanson, Alberta Health Services (AHS) ophthalmologist and Residency Program Director for Ophthalmology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

“Training our surgeons in a life-like environment translates into the best possible care for patients.”

The device – one of three of its kind in the country – was first used in Calgary last December and, to date, has been used to train 10 ophthalmology residents. The $150,000 was device was purchased through funds donated by the University Eye Foundation, a charity which raises funds for education, research and much-needed equipment to improve eye care for Albertans.

Eyesi consists of a mannequin head, including a life-sized eyeball, which sits on a table facing the surgeon. The eyeball has eight openings for surgeons to insert surgical instruments. The instruments are controlled through a microscope and the interior of the eye is projected on a larger screen in real time. Microscope and machine functions are controlled via foot pedals, just like in real eye surgery scenarios.

The device also features different training modules for surgeries in the front and back portions of the eye.

“Eye surgery is extremely specialized and every fraction of a millimetre of movement counts,” says ophthalmology resident Dr. Vikram Lekhi.

“It also requires subtle hand and foot movements. Performing the procedure through a microscope like in real surgery helps hone our hand/eye co-ordination.”

Previously, pig eyeballs were used for eye surgery training.

“Most people do not think of their eye health until affected by an eye disease or injury,” says Elizabeth Jolicoeur, Executive Director of the University Eye Foundation.

“With donors’ help, the Eye Foundation’s funding has benefited research and training, such as purchasing the Surgical Eye Simulator for the residents program, along with other surgical equipment purchases.”

The University Eye Foundation is hosting The Eye Ball, a gala fundraising event on Saturday, April 23, 2016, to raise more funds for surgical and training equipment in Alberta.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

Alberta Health Services

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