Published in Research

Orbis and FundamentalVR roll out VR cataract surgery training

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5 min read

Orbis International and FundamentalVR announced a new immersive virtual reality (VR) training tool earlier this month, designed exclusively to train surgeons in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Quick refresh on these players.

As a global non-governmental organization (NGO)—with influences in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean—Orbis is focused on the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness via a network of corporate partners, NGOs, and local hospitals.

London, England-based FundamentalVR (FVR) is an immersive simulation platform for healthcare professionals (HCPs) focused on accelerating and transforming skill transfer and surgical proficiency via both VR and mixed reality (MR) applications.

Its Fundamental Surgery platform enables this immersive VR experience.

Give a brief rundown on that.

The Fundamental Surgery platform is designed to provide surgeons with a scalable, portable (via a headset), and collaborative experience that allows for an unlimited number of multi-users to fully rehearse medical and surgical procedures.

Its major selling point: the inclusion of HapticVR, a patented kinesthetic haptic system designed to simulate sensations and interactions of bone textures, muscles, and soft tissues with surgical tools and medical devices.

Some background: In November 2023, FVR and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) announced a collaboration on VR-based clinical education to support pediatric ophthalmic training using its platform technology.

Now this training tool.

Developed through funding from the Silicon Valley Orbis Innovation Fund and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) Foundation, the Orbis-FVR tool combines VR, haptic feedback, cloud assessment data, and off-the-shelf hardware to create a cataract surgical training solution that can be used in resource-limited settings.

Its key components: affordability, portability, scalability, and targeted functionality.

And its purpose: to support students and residents learning to perform cataract surgery in LMICs and expand the number and outreach of skilled surgeons for better global patient outcomes.

More details, please.

The tool includes automated performance monitoring and feedback that target independent learning for users, while a realistic VR simulation (integrated with haptics) enables them to hone their skills in a safe but realistic training environment.

Per Orbis, users can supplement their learning via Cybersight, its telemedicine and e-learning platform designed to provide free, virtual training and mentorship to eyecare professionals (ECPs) in developing countries.

Now tell me about this platform.

Cybersight offers virtual consultations from over 100 ophthalmic experts, online courses developed and delivered by international ECPs—with the opportunity to earn CME/CPD credits—as well as live online training events hosted by international expert faculty from more than 100 countries that include:

  • Interactive presentations
  • Surgical demonstrations
  • Expert Q&A

Note: Back in September 2023, Orbis partnered with Heidelberg Engineering to provide virtual vision service training and research funding via Cybersight. Click here to read our coverage on that.

Gotcha. Back to the training tool: what are the benefits of its affordability?

Its “affordable gaming hardware makes it more financially accessible to resource-restricted partners,” according to Orbis.

Plus, the tool zeroes in on manual small-incision cataract surgery (SICS)—noted as being the most common technique performed in low-resource countries—so ECPs are better trained and prepared to treat patients in their communities.

Is there any real-world use of it yet?

There is! The tool is reported to already be in use at partner hospitals of Orbis in Bangladesh, China, Mongolia, Ethiopia, and India.

According to the NGO, Orbis is also “working with Bangladesh to incorporate surgery simulation into its national ophthalmology training curriculum, helping it become the third country in the world to mandate its use for eye care education.”

And any other future plans?

Orbis plans to use similar VR solutions to train ECPs on treating glaucoma, strabismus, and other eye conditions across the globe.

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