We are very fortunate in the South West to have a state of the art Virtual Reality surgical simulator (EyeSi by VR Magic) together with completely up to date software and all the latest software modules for the use of trainees. Housed at Torbay Hospital in the Simulation Suite, it was initially purchased with CITEC funds and the help of the Ophthalmology Department at Torbay, and has recently been supported by the School of Ophthalmology. It is available to all trainees in the region after initial induction. Those at Torbay have 24 hour access whilst they are at the Trust and those at other Trusts have office hours’ access so that they can use the simulator during study, rest or theatre sessions. An induction session is held in August for all new trainees, and other inductions are available by liaising with Ms Tamsin Sleep at Torbay (01803 655141).
We have found the simulator invaluable. Novice surgeons are able to practice technical exercises to familiarise themselves with the anatomy of the anterior chamber, and to learn how to use an operating microscope whilst respecting ocular tissues. They can then perform steps of phacoemulsification with endless repetition with no worry about patient safety or pressure of time. More senior trainees have benefited by using the simulator to practice a single step of surgery with which they might be struggling (for example the capsulorrhexis or deep grooving). They are also able to access the training programme run by VR magic complete with training materials.
We also have an active research programme using the simulator and have had two papers accepted this year in peer reviewed journals, and our registrars’ research has generated many posters and presentations at national and international meetings.
At Torbay we also use the simulator as part of an introductory surgical course for aspiring Ophthalmologists which provides great teaching experience.
The simulator is housed in a brand new building on the Torbay Hospital site (the Horizon Centre) with simulators from many other specialties, and an excellent café! We hope to expand the Ophthalmology equipment in the simulator suite in the near future.
Please refer to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists website for details on the curriculum.