Stereo microscopes for teaching future ophthalmologists
Ophthalmologists require years of training and continuous practice to successfully master the skills needed to perform ophthalmic surgery. Development of the fine motor skills and getting a feel for the ocular tissues are crucial parts of this training, but historically the only way of practicing these skills was in wet-labs using animal eyes or in the operating theatre during live surgery. However, over the last ten years, a combination of high fidelity model eyes, which replicate the look and feel of the human eye and Virtual Reality simulators, have enabled trainees to develop these skills away from patients and demonstrate their competence before they perform live surgery.
Simulated Ocular Surgery (SOS) with ZEISS stereo microscopes
John Ferris is the Head of the School of Ophthalmology in the South West of England and chaired the National Recruitment committee for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists for six years. He has a strong interest in surgical training and launched the Simulated Ocular Surgery (SOS) website in 2014. This website demonstrates how fidelity model eyes and virtual reality systems can be used to enhance the safety and efficacy of surgical training. He also launched the Simulation Gallery in 2017, which is linked to the SOS website and showcases different surgical teaching techniques from round the world.
Ferris had been looking for a portable microscope with an inbuilt camera system to facilitate the use of these simulation techniques. ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscopes now form an integral part of the pan-European training initiative that he is running with the French based pharmaceutical company Thea. Over the last 12 months, they have run eight large surgical workshops in the UK, Spain, France and Holland, with more planned for 2018. Enjoy some impressions of these “Digital Ophthalmic Classrooms” here.
Like learning a musical instrument
The aim of the Simulated Ocular Surgery project is to change the culture of ophthalmic surgical training across the globe, so that it is no longer acceptable for trainees to perform any part of an operation until they have demonstrated that they have the skills to do this competently and safely.
When a budding musician is starting to learn a new instrument, they will have a series of lessons and in between these lessons they practice what they have been taught. The difficulty ophthalmologists in training have is that it is difficult to practice new techniques unless they have access to dedicated wet-labs equipped with expensive operating microscopes. However, the ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscope has the potential to make ophthalmic surgical training much more like learning a musical instrument by enabling trainees to practice their skills at home or in a dry-lab on a daily basis. Furthermore, the fact that the trainee can record their practice sessions on an iPpad and then show these videos to the teacher is an added bonus.
This recording facility also promotes remote supervision, whereby trainees can be mentored by surgeons in a different country, a set-up that is currently being used in a large simulation project in South Africa.
ZEISS Stemi 305 stereo microscopes have become an integral part of this sea change in ophthalmic surgical training, thus helping to improve the safety and efficacy of training across the globe.