HelpMeSee Selects Moog to Develop a Leading Edge Virtual Reality Eye Surgery Simulator
|Making Eye Surgery as Safe as Flight to Eradicate Cataract Blindness Worldwide
East Aurora, NY, USA, April 23, 2013 - HelpMeSee has achieved a significant milestone in medical simulation by successfully testing virtual reality surgical training simulators as a proof of concept.
This success led HelpMeSee to select Moog for a joint development contract to design and produce a high-fidelity virtual reality Eye Surgery Simulator and courseware model to train cataract surgeons to proficiency, enabling them to perform high quality, high volume surgeries to save the sight of millions of blind people worldwide. Moog Industrial Group, a division of Moog Inc. (NYSE: MOG.A and MOG.B), designs and manufactures high performance motion control solutions in a range of industrial applications including simulation for pilot, medical and dental training.
HelpMeSee is a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness endemic in developing countries. HelpMeSee is making sight saving surgery available to the millions who cannot afford the high cost, via local partner surgeons. The procedure, known as manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS), is quicker and more cost effective than the expensive cataract procedure practiced in developing countries, and the visual outcome compares favorably. By 2030, there is anticipated need for 30,000 additional MSIC surgeons in order to treat all cases of cataract blindness in the third world. HelpMeSee has pioneered a virtual reality surgical simulator and training program to be implemented worldwide, adapted from extensive experience in simulator based aviation training.
HelpMeSee co-founder Al Ueltschi founded FlightSafety International, the world's leading aviation training company, was a pioneer in aviation safety and simulator based training of pilots. It was Ueltschi's inspiration to apply the principles of aviation training to developing the high-fidelity virtual reality surgical simulator and courseware to train local surgeons. He chose to focus on cataracts because he wanted to have an impact on the largest possible scale, using haptics in virtual reality.
After a competitive process, HelpMeSee selected Moog Industrial Group based on the quality of its haptics technology and motion control expertise. Haptics is the science of creating a realistic sense of touch for the user in a virtual environment. Moog's role is critical in defining and creating the virtual environment from which the student surgeons will develop proficiency for MSICS using haptics.
The simulator design will include contributions from InSimo and SenseGraphics, companies acting as subcontractors to Moog on this project. The Eye Surgery Simulator aims to provide students with a realistic environment to practice and achieve proficiency in any number of scenarios, including, possible complications. All objects and parts of the eye within the context of the simulator react to physical pressure exactly like their real-life counterparts. This level of sensitivity is essential to allow the MSICS student to develop the correct motor skills while performing surgery. This makes high fidelity haptics critical in bringing the accurate sense of touch required to students at every stage of the procedure.
Seán Gartland, President, Moog Industrial Group commented: "This project is a great opportunity to combine HelpMeSee and Moog's extensive and highly complementary expertise. We bring our strong engineering capability to provide simulator systems and high level haptic force feedback. Our long term experience and success in providing systems for flight simulators has enabled unsurpassed levels of performance, fidelity and reliability. More recently, our experience in developing the Simodont Dental Trainer confirmed the increasingly key role that haptics can play in medical simulation and we are excited to support efforts that help grow this industry. We are proud to support the noble cause underlying the HelpMeSee Campaign."
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."
Quicker, More Effective Training, at a Lower Cost
Simulator-based learning is a world apart from traditional ophthalmological training. The way students practice today does not provide realistic human eye surgical scenarios. The simulator is effectively an endless supply of human eyes. This offers students unlimited opportunities for practice with all pre-existing conditions and complications, without risk to patients. Using the simulator, the prospective cataract specialist will be able to perform thousands of virtual surgeries before ever operating on a real patient.
HelpMeSee President and CEO Mohan Thazhathu said, "HelpMeSee has selected the ideal partner to develop this cutting edge Eye Surgery Simulator. It is fundamental to the mission of HelpMeSee to deliver high quality cataract surgeries and eliminate cataract blindness. Well trained cataract surgeons are the foundation needed to deliver the highest-quality care to every patient."