High-tech simulator gives future eye surgeons in Calgary ‘real life’ training

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WATCH ABOVE: Rockyview General Hospital now has a state-of the art eye surgery simulator that’s as close to the “real thing” as you can get. The $150,000 device is just one of a few in Canada, and the University Eye Foundation, a Calgary charity, raised the funds to buy it. David Boushy reports – Apr 12, 2016

Developments in virtual reality mean the next generation of ophthalmologists no longer have to rely on old-fashioned methods when training for optical surgery.

Eyesi, a state-of-the-art virtual reality device, allows ophthalmology residents to practice procedures such as cataract, intraocular and retinal surgeries before performing them on patients.

READ MORE: How a smartphone may revolutionize eye care

“Training our surgeons in a life-like environment translates into the best possible care for patients,” said Dr. Chris Hanson, Alberta Health Services (AHS) ophthalmologist and residency program director for ophthalmology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

Ophthalmology resident Dr. Vikram Lekhi using the Eyesi in Calgary April 12, 2016. Global News

Last December, Eyesi was used for the first time in Calgary by 10 ophthalmology residents.

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Eyesi consists of a mannequin head and a life-size eyeball which faces the surgeon. There are eight openings in the eyeball for the insertion of surgical instruments, which are controlled through a microscope. The interior of the eye is then projected on a screen in real time.

“Eye surgery is extremely specialized and every fraction of a millimetre of movement counts,” ophthalmology resident Dr. Vikram Lekhi said in a statement. “Performing the procedure through a microscope like in real surgery helps hone our hand/eye co-ordination.”

Ophthalmologists formerly used pig eyeballs when training for surgery.

Funds for the $150,000 Eyesi were donated by the University Eye Foundation, a charity which raises money for education, research and much-needed equipment.

“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,” said a statement from Elizabeth Jolicoeur, executive director of the University Eye Foundation.

The University Eye Foundation will be hosting The Eye Ball, a gala fundraising event on Saturday, April 23 in Calgary, to raise more funds for surgical operating microscopes at Rockyview General Hospital and the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

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