New simulator for cataract surgical training to aid global campaign

[From HelpMeSee via PR Newswire]

French PM tests cataract simulator

Breakthrough in Virtual Reality Surgical Simulation

Legacy of Aviation Safety Pioneer Inspires Application of Flight Simulation Principles to Medicine

Early Stage Prototype Simulator Presented to French Prime Minister

NEW YORK, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Research scientists from the SHACRA team with INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique) in Lille have achieved a significant milestone in medical simulation. With funding and technical support from HelpMeSee and in collaboration with physicians from the Lille and Strasbourg hospitals, the team has developed a simulator prototype for cataract surgical training. The key feature of this simulator is that it relies on a very realistic biomechanical model of the eye, thanks to the technologies of InSimo.

A team comprised of INRIA and affiliate InSimo researchers presented the early stage prototype simulator to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and a group of selected ministers. Ayrault tested the simulator, practicing the motions of removing a cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens.

HelpMeSee ( is a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness endemic in developing countries. HelpMeSee is making surgery available to the poor through the use of a quick, effective and inexpensive surgical procedure known as manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS). Worldwide, there is demand for 30,000 MSIC surgeons to be trained by 2030.

To facilitate training, HelpMeSee is now leading a project to develop a high-fidelity virtual reality surgical simulator and courseware modeled on flight simulators. HelpMeSee President and CEO Mohan Thazhathu emphasized that “HelpMeSee is dedicated to delivering the best quality and patient-centered cataract surgical services.  Proficiency level training and certification of cataract surgeons are fundamental to achieving this goal.”

HelpMeSee founder Al Ueltschi was a pioneer in aviation safety and simulator based training of pilots. James Ueltschi, Chairman and co-founder of HelpMeSee, remarked “We proved through FlightSafety International that simulators can be used to train thousands of pilots every year. We strongly believe that this principle can apply to cataract surgeons as well. We are very confident we can solve this problem.”

The early stage Simulator for the proof of concept

INRIA and InSimo have pioneered a physics-based model which recreates the sense of touch. All objects and parts of the eye within the context of the simulator react to physical pressure exactly like their real-life counterparts. This sensitivity is essential, as it allows MSICS student to develop correct motor skills for performing surgery.

The INRIA team, delighted by the success of this prototype simulator, expressed their conviction that the partnership allows HelpMeSee to leverage INRIA’s technical expertise to deliver the best possible technology for MSICS training.

For further information contact:
Phone: +1 212 221 7606, ext 7
Facebook/Twitter: HelpMeSee


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