Background: To investigate the effect of a structured, supervised, cataract simulation programme on ophthalmic surgeons in their first year of training, and to evaluate the level of skill transfer.
Methods: Trainees with minimal intraocular and simulator experience in their first year of ophthalmology undertook a structured, sequential, customised, virtual reality (VR) cataract training programme developed through the International Forum of Ophthalmic Simulation. A set of one-handed, bimanual, static and dynamic tasks were evaluated before and after the course and scores obtained. Statistical significance was evaluated with the Wilcoxon sign-rank test.
Results: The median precourse score of 101.50/400 (IQR 58.75-145.75) was significantly improved after completing the training programme ((postcourse score: 302/400, range: 266.25-343), p<0.001). While improvement was evident and found to be statistically significant in all parameters, greatest improvements were found for capsulorhexis and antitremor training ((Capsulorhexis: precourse score=0/100, range 0-4.5; postcourse score=81/100, range 13-87.75; p=0.002), (antitremor training: precourse score=0/100, range 0-0; postcourse score=80/100, range 60.25-91.50; p=0.001)).
Conclusions: Structured and supervised VR training can offer a significant level of skills transfer to novice ophthalmic surgeons. VR training at the earliest stage of ophthalmic surgical training may, therefore, be of benefit.
Keywords: Eye (Globe); Lens and zonules; Medical Education; Optics and Refraction; Treatment Surgery.