James Paget hospital snaps up £100,000 eye surgery simulator from Germany
14:09 20 July 2012
Hospital bosses have bought a £100,000 eye surgery simulator from Germany to train up East Anglia’s next generation of eye surgeons.
The highly-sophisticated EyeSi device – which means surgeons can train more quickly – is based at the James Paget University Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston. It lets surgeons operate on an artificial eye – like a computer game – and gives them a score for their performance.
Ordinarily trainee surgeons must learn on live patients under the close watch of consultants, meaning training took a very long time.
Tom Butler, consultant opthalmologist at the JPH, said: “Basically it’s a flight simulator for cataract surgery.
“This is a nice, safe, fun way for surgeons to learn and is much safer for patients.
“It allows us to learn the early steps of surgery in a controlled environment until they’re perfected, and can stretch senior surgeons who want to learn new techniques.”
Mr Butler, who is also a surgical skills trainer at the Royal College of Opthalmologists in London, added: “It’s now a mandatory part of training.”
More than 2,000 cataract operations are carried out at the JPH each year, with more than 300,000 nationally, and the simulator will help surgeons meet the pressures of an ageing population.
The business probe used in cataract surgery vibrates 50,000 times per second and requires delicate precision to avoid permanent damage to the retina.
Ismail Giakous, a trainee eye surgery at the JPH, said: “It’s really helpful for us: you can complete as many operations as it takes to feel confident.”
Some elements of eye surgery, such as removing a lens, were not possible to simulate until the EyeSi was developed by bio-physicists in Mannheim, Germany.
The simulator is the first in the region and one of just 15 in the UK -–with the next nearest based at the Royal College of Opthalmologists in London.
And as use of the EyeSi is now mandatory for trainee eye surgeons, the JPH is at the centre of eye surgery training in the east of England.