Impact of virtual reality simulation on learning barriers of phacoemulsification perceived by residents

Authors: Ng DS, Sun ZH, Young AL, Ko STC, Lok JKH, Lai TYY, Sikder S, Tham CC

Publication: Clinical Ophthalmology, Published 11 May 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 885-893. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S140411.


Objective: To identify residents’ perceived barriers to learning phacoemulsification surgical procedures and to evaluate whether virtual reality simulation training changed these perceptions.

Design: The ophthalmology residents undertook a simulation phacoemulsification course and proficiency assessment on the Eyesi system using the previously validated training modules of intracapsular navigation, anti-tremor, capsulorrhexis, and cracking/chopping. A cross-sectional, multicenter survey on the perceived difficulties in performing phacoemulsification tasks on patients, based on the validated International Council of Ophthalmology’s Ophthalmology Surgical Competency Assessment Rubric (ICO-OSCAR), using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = least and 5 = most difficulty), was conducted among residents with or without prior simulation training. Mann–Whitney U tests were carried out to compare the mean scores, and multivariate regression analyses were performed to evaluate the association of lower scores with the following potential predictors: 1) higher level trainee, 2) can complete phacoemulsification most of the time (>90%) without supervisor’s intervention, and 3) prior simulation training.

Setting: The study was conducted in ophthalmology residency training programs in five regional hospitals in Hong Kong.

Results: Of the 22 residents, 19 responded (86.3%), of which 13 (68.4%) had completed simulation training. Nucleus cracking/chopping was ranked highest in difficulty by all respondents followed by capsulorrhexis completion and nucleus rotation/manipulation. Respondents with prior simulation training had significantly lower difficulty scores on these three tasks (nucleus cracking/chopping 3.85 vs 4.75, P = 0.03; capsulorrhexis completion 3.31 vs 4.40, P = 0.02; and nucleus rotation/manipulation 3.00 vs 4.75, P = 0.01). In multivariate analyses, simulation training was significantly associated with lower difficulty scores on these three tasks.

Conclusion: Residents who had completed Eyesi simulation training had higher confidence in performing the most difficult tasks perceived during phacoemulsification.