Virtual Eye Surgery Make a Big Difference in the Operating Room

Eye surgery is a very delicate procedure and, as with any surgery, there are risks. Risks related to cataract removal surgery include infection, hemorrhaging, glaucoma, corneal swelling and retinal detachment. A serious infection after surgery can lead to loss of vision.

In the past, ophthalmologists were only able to practice on the eye of an animal or a cadaver or had to wait until they were in surgery with a person to get hands-on experience. Now, with the use of an eye surgery simulator, doctors can practice surgery without touching a real eye.
Another benefit of the simulator is being able to track every movement the doctor makes during surgery, so it tracks if he or she is bumping into parts of the eye that shouldn't be touched.
Another benefit over an eye from an animal or cadaver is the machine tracks progress over time, so superiors can realize when a resident is ready for surgery. The system is also a quicker and more efficient way to learn compared to other practice surgery methods because the set up and take down time is much easier.
Residents can perform 10 or 20 cases in the time it would take to do one or two cadaver eyes.
The simulator also gives trainees a chance to learn new techniques and gain more experience much earlier than those training using other methods.
Residents also report the simulator helps ease their fears about surgeries, which may make it safer for the patient because the doctors feel less anxious about the surgery.

The simulator lets the doctor choose virtual instruments from various sizes that they will use to perform the surgery. The virtual eye also reacts to a stimulus based on depth, angle and number of repetitions. The device allows trainee doctors to encounter complications often observed in real patients, like the patient moving, bubbles in fluid caused by instruments, or the pupil changing size during surgery. The simulator helps doctors gauge depth perception, so they can map out the movements they need to make during surgery. These little instances make a big difference in the operating room.

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Thomas F. Mauger, M.D.
Chairman and Director
The Havener Eye Institute
Department of Ophthalmology
The Ohio State University


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