A guide to eyes: ophthalmic simulators

Authors: Radia M, Arunakirinathan M, Sibley D

Publication: The Bulletin, Royal College of Surgeons, Volume 100 Issue 4, June 2018, pp. 169-171, doi.org/10.1308/rcsbull.2018.E169


How computer-based surgical simulation can supplement textbooks, videos and wet-lab experience in surgical training.

The modernisation of junior doctor training programmes and implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) have diminished surgical training time. Ophthalmic surgical trainees must acquire, within a limited time, sufficient experience and proficiency in cataract surgery before qualifying as consultants. Before they embark on a career in ophthalmology, the vast majority of first-year trainees have never performed in vivo intraocular surgery. Evidence has shown that trainees have the highest complication rates at the start of their training, which emphasises the importance of adequate and appropriate surgical training and supervision.

The paradigm of surgical training has evolved from laboratory practice to operating on cadaveric and animal tissue in wet labs and, more recently, synthetic eye models. Although simulation has been long-standing practice in other industries such as the aviation industry and computer gaming world, it is a relatively novel concept that has revolutionised surgical training in the 21st century. The VRmagic Eyesi Ophthalmic Surgical Simulator is unique, as it provides a realistic and appropriate platform to acquire psychomotor skills and develop micro-surgical spatial awareness, which can be applied to real-life cataract and vitreoretinal surgery. This aids in building the confidence of beginner surgeons by allaying unnecessary stress in the operating theatre and carrying out an objective assessment of surgical performance in a safe environment.