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Virtual reality used to train new eye surgeons

20/02/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
Ophthalmology trainees at the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (VEEH) are now using virtual reality simulators to learn the highly specialised microsurgery skills required for invasive eye procedures.

According to information provided by VEEH, the state-of-the-art Eyesi Surgical simulators are designed to provide the next generation of ophthalmologists a safe and controlled environment in which to develop their skills.

Director of training for RANZCO’s Victorian branch Dr Jacqueline Beltz, said the virtual reality training is designed to improve patient outcomes, reduce complication rates and increaser surgical skills and confidence.


"Virtual reality simulation provides a setting that forgives failure and allows trainees to develop fine motor skills, as well as learn from their errors without causing harm."
Jacqueline Beltz, RANZCO's Victorian branch director of training

“Practice is vital to learn any skill and microsurgery is no exception. Virtual reality simulation provides a setting that forgives failure and allows trainees to develop fine motor skills, as well as learn from their errors without causing harm,” she said.

“Studies have shown that patient outcomes are improved when trainees have undertaken virtual reality training.”

The new training simulators will be used alongside traditional methods, including wet and dry labs, to increase the breadth of surgical instruction for young ophthalmologists. Aside from its advantages as a practical training tool, Beltz said another advantage of the Eyesi software was that it allows the trainer to objectively monitor and track individual progress.

“With the data that is collected, we can track each individual trainee’s progress, identifying and addressing any gaps that may require extra practice or additional teaching. We can also compare trainees’ progress both locally and globally, so we can evaluate and improve our training program,” she said.

The first stage of the virtual reality training program will focus on preparing first year trainees for cataract surgery, while future programs will include training for vitreoretinal surgery and complication management.

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