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  • The prevalence of cataract blindness in Latin America, like elsewhere, is an issue of poverty and unequal care.
  • Queretaro, a state in Mexico with a strong economy, had a high cataract surgery coverage rate of 91.7% for those with cataracts that led to severe visual impairment, whereas Chiapas a poorer state in the South had a cataract surgery rate of only 69%. 
  • The outcomes or how well people can see after cataract surgery is another issue. Good cataract outcomes mean that fewer than 10% of cases should have a “severe visual impairment” on recovery. In some Latin American countries, this number is  23%.
  • If we look at the general aging of the population,  this situation in Latin America as across the world will only get worse.
  • While the problem of cataract blindness may sound daunting, most experts agree on the solution: more training that focuses on increasing cataract surgery productivity while improving outcomes.

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“We believe in Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) and fully support the training of this technique to address the backlog of those blind due to untreated cataracts in Latin America and elsewhere. MSICS delivers excellent results. It can be performed in large numbers and is well-suited for treating the poor.”

  • Dr. Karla Pamela Gonzalez-Daher
    Anterior Segment Surgeon & Head of Online Education
    Instituto Mexicano de Oftalmologia

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The prevalence of cataract blindness in Latin America, like elsewhere, is an issue of poverty and unequal care. Mexico is considered a middle-income country, yet the country’s prosperity is divided. With a population of over 125 million people, half live in poverty and up to one-fifth do not have access to any healthcare. Due to this disparity, many who need ophthalmic treatment depend upon charitable hospitals like Instituto Mexicano de Oftalmologia (Mexican Institute of Opthalmology or IMO), located in Queretaro. 

A study performed in 2010 in the Mexican states of Queretaro and Chiapas highlights this imbalance of care. Queretaro is one of the stronger state economies of Mexico. Chiapas in the south is poorer. Half of the population of Chiapas live on subsistence farming. Results concluded that the incidence of blindness is two and half times higher in Chiapas than in Queretaro. Likewise, Queretaro had a high cataract surgery coverage rate of 91.7% for those with cataracts that led to severe visual impairment, whereas only 69% of patients in Chiapas in the same condition receive treatment. Usually, the larger more affluent areas have an adequate number of cataract surgeons, but the less wealthy rural areas do not. This scenario plays out in other countries as demonstrated in a 2014 study that found that cataract surgery coverage varied widely. Uruguay treats 77% of their cataract cases, but El Salvador only 15%.

It’s not all bad news. In this same 2014 study, it was found that some headway had been made during the previous decade from 2004 to 2015. The Cataract Surgery Rate (CSR) defined as the number of cataract surgeries performed per year for every 1 million in population for Latin America as a whole increased from 1,562 to 2,672 representing an impressive 70% growth. The World Health Organization suggests a sustained CSR of 3,000 to 5,000 to eliminate cataract blindness. As for the total number of ophthalmologists per million people in the population, the figure for Latin America is 62. While not the worst by world standards, this is a lower but safe number. 

 

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The outcomes or how well people can see after cataract surgery is another issue. Good cataract outcomes mean that fewer than 10% of cases should have a “severe visual impairment” on recovery. In one country inferior outcomes were reported at 15% and in another 23%.

If we look at the general aging of the population,  this situation will only get worse. In IMO’s home state of Queretaro, the numbers of those 50 years or older will increase by 24% from 2010 to 2030. 

While the problem of cataract blindness may sound daunting, most experts agree on the solution: more training that focuses on increasing cataract surgery productivity through while improving outcomes. Additionally, a successful eye health care model that includes a comprehensive care program that encompasses a training center. To fix the problem of cataract blindness, institutions like IMO must focus on scales of economy to maintain sustainability and guarantee affordable eye care for all.  This is why HelpMeSee is planning to install one of our Eye Surgery Simulators at IMO. 

Surgery is the only cure for cataracts. Reducing the numbers of people who are blind or severely visually impaired will lead to healthier populations, reduce overall healthcare costs, save healthcare budgets for other essential projects and increase the economic outlooks for individuals and economies by allowing people to work. 

Supporting a cataract surgery or even a few is an admirable effort, training additional cataract surgeons to address the shortages in Latin American and elsewhere across the world is a sustainable solution that can help hundreds. Using a cost-efficient and productive surgical technique like MSICS is the only impactful way to address this public health crisis. 

 

Schedule a time to demonstrate the HelpMeSee Eye Surgery Simulator at the 2019 Comprehensive Cataract Conference (CCC 2019) and 3rd Biennial Word Conference on Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery held on November 29 in West Bengal, India.

Attendees of the 2019 Comprehensive Cataract Conference (CCC 2019) will have the opportunity to demo the HelpMeSee Eye Surgery Simulator, that when fully developed and integrated within the MSICS Simulation-based Training Program (MSTP), will provide trainees with the opportunity to gain the surgical skills and knowledge required to perform the Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) procedure. The HelpMeSee Simulator incorporates four integrated systems: graphics, physics models, haptic sensation components and a learning platform. 

Currently programmed with the MSICS tunnel incision task, participants using the HelpMeSee Simulator will understand how eye tissues respond to interactions with virtual surgical instruments when cutting, stabbing and injecting the Simulator’s eye. CCC 2019 is your opportunity to experience this technology.

 

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In addition to Simulator demonstrations, HelpMeSee conference presenters will include Dr. Ashish Bacchav, HelpMeSee Instructor and Subject Matter Expert lecturing on, How to assess surgeries by trainees?  Dr. Chetan Ahiwalay will be discussing, Simulation, Curriculum, Training resources: A Wholesome approach - The HelpMeSee Way, and Dr. Jean-Marie Andre will speak on, ECCE to MSICS Conversion - Africa Experience. Exact times and dates for these talks are available on the CCC 2019 Conference Program. 

The HelpMeSee campaign and the idea for the Eye Surgery Simulator began in the late 1990s when Albert L. Ueltschi dedicated himself to fighting blindness in the developing world. The Simulator will be used to achieve the HelpMeSee vision to train local cataract specialists in MSICS, to address the shortage of cataract surgical services in the communities most impacted by cataract blindness. 

HelpMeSee is a cosponsor of CCC 2019 along with the International Society of Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgeons (ISMSICS). CCC 2019 will mark HelpMeSee’s second year of participation in this conference series.

An October article on the Forbes website discussed one of the most important benefits of having cataract surgery.

  • In driving simulator tests, cataract surgery has been shown to reduce near-miss automobile accidents by 48%, improving driver and road safety for all.
  • Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss for those over 50 years of age. By the age of 80, almost 50% of the population will develop cataracts. Cataract surgery is the only way to treat cataracts. It is a low risk, quick and efficient procedure.
  • While measuring visual acuity through a traditional eye chart is an important way to evaluate visual improvement, it does not provide a complete assessment. Contrast sensitivity and improved night vision are additional advantages occurring after cataract surgery. Simulated driving tests can demonstrate the impacts of these latter benefits.
  • Other known advantages to cataract surgery include a reduction in the risk of falls, an improvement in the ability to perform daily tasks, as well as an elevation in mental status and physical well-being. 

To read the full article, visit “This May Be One Of The Most Important benefits Of Having Cataract Surgery.

 

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Cataracts can lead to issues with driving but in some areas of the world. They can lead to issues of survival in others, especially within the developing world where untreated cataracts causes 51% of all blindness. With 12.60 million people blind and 52.60 million visually impaired across the world due to untreated cataracts, this is not a minor health issue.  To learn more about this problem in India, read “Cataract Blindness in India – A Public Health Crisis.


June marked Cataract Awareness Month and to support education and awareness of this eye condition HelpMeSee hosted an online Q&A with board-certified ophthalmologist Daniel Hutter, MD on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 11:00 AM EDT. To learn more and read a transcript of this chat, click here.

Location: Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY
Date: February 13, 2017

In February 2017, this concert was presented by Music for Life International in New York City’s legendary Carnegie Hall, and featured a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection". Net proceeds from the concert will go to support HelpMeSee's mission to eliminate cataract blindness around the world.

Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony draws on images of rebirth and resurrection, which resonate with the experience of restored vision. This event brought together over 200 musicians, thousands of listeners, and a global community to act to restore vision and hope to all people suffering from cataract blindness.

For more information about the Mahler For Vision concert and the Music for Vision series of concerts, please visit http://HelpMeSee.org/MusicForVision

Location: Lake Junaluska, NC
Dates: August 2 - 6, 2017

During the Christian Ophthalmology Society's annual meeting, HelpMeSee will be on hand to present our Eye Surgical Simulator.  Conference attendees can experience demonstrations of the MSICS simulator currently under development. Experienced cataract surgeons will have an opportunity for a hands-on trial of the simulator. 

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On Saturday, August 5th at 4:00 - 6:00 PM, the conference will also host a special session highlighting the potential for simulation-based training using a comprehensive curriculum. 

For more information about the Eye Surgical Simulator, or to learn how you can join HelpMeSee's mission to eliminate cataract blindness, please visit our booth in the Harrell Center exhibition space.

In December 2017, the International Society of Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgeons (ISMSICS) will hold its 2nd World Conference on MSICS. Following the success of the 1st World Conference in 2015, thousands of eye surgeons, researchers, and medical professionals from around the world are expected to gather together once again.

Members of HelpMeSee’s global team will join them in Chennai, sharing insights and experiences in providing cataract care, and presenting solutions which can support training and delivery of sight-restoring treatment for millions around the world. The events begin with a pre-conference workshop held on the December 1st, 2017, and the main conference will be held on December 2nd through the 3rd, 2017 at ITC Grand Chola in Chennai.  Attendees can also schedule hands-on demos with HelpMeSee's Eye Surgical Simulator for training MSICS specialists.

HelpMeSee is proud to sponsor this Comprehensive Cataract Conference 2017 (CCC 2017) and 2nd World Conference on MSICS. We hope you will join us in Chennai!

Register here

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How to Attend

To join ISMSICS members and medical experts attending from around the world, simply register in advance through the Comprehensive Cataract Conference’s website here.

Offline registration is available through this downloadable form.  On-site registration is limited, so please register in advance if you’re planning to attend the conference.

Register now

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Events

During CCC 2017, HelpMeSee will host two scientific symposiums on “The fundamentals of simulation-based training in MSICS” and “Technology driven community based approach to cataract patient care to eliminate cataract blindness”.  A list of symposium presenations and panelists is provided below, and a full schedule of the scientific program is available on the conference website.

Symposium 1 – The Fundamentals of Simulation-Based Training in MSICS
When: 10:45 – 12:00, Saturday December 2nd, 2017
Where: Hall B, ITC Grand Chola

Dr. Xiao using the Eye Surgical Simualtor

  1. Simulators in Ophthalmic Training: What, How and Why? (Venudhar Bhatt)
  2. Simulation-based Training: Advantage and Benefits (Jon Pollack) 
  3. How Simulators Can Raise the Bar in Ophthalmic Surgical Training (Dr. Akshay Nair)
  4. Instructor-led Simulation-based Training – The Road Ahead (Dr. Ashish Bacchav)
  5. Courseware Development to Support Simulation-based Training for MSICS (Dr. Chetan)
  6. Panel Discussion: Will simulation-based training become mandatory in India?
    Moderator: Dr. Amulya Sahu
    Panelists: Dr. Yang Xiao, Dr. K P S Malik, Dr. R D Ravindran, Dr. M S Ravindra, Dr. Debashish Bhattacharya, Dr. Promila Gupta, Dr. Parikshit Gogate, Dr. Jagannath Boramani, Venudhar Bhatt, Jon Pollack, Dr. Akshay Nair, Dr. Ashish Bacchav, Dr. Chetan

Symposium 2 – A Technology Driven, Community Based Approach To Cataract Patient Care To Eliminate Cataract Blindness
When: 12:20 – 1:10, Saturday December 2nd, 2017 
Where: Hall B, ITC Grand Chola

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  1. Community Based Saturation- The Multi Stakeholder Approach (Venkat Sambandhamoorthy) 
  2. Innovations in Global Eye Care Initiatives: Geospatial Cataract Care: Big Data Collection, Analysis & Mapping (Matthew Walden)
  3. The Single Use, Pre-Sterilized MSICS Surgical Kit: Supporting the Surgeons Working in Austere Environments (Dr. Jean Marie Andre)
  4. Achieving Self Sustainability and Growth Thru MSICS – The Mexican Experience (Dr. Van Lansingh)
  5. Challenges, Solutions, Outcome Analysis & Feedback: The India, Nepal and Myanmar Experience (Dr. Ranjit Maniar)
  6. Panel Discussion: Is the District Saturation Approach the Most Efficient and Cost-Effective Approach?
    Moderator: Dr. Ranjit Maniar
    Panelists: Dr. Thulasiraj, Dr. NSD Raju, Dr. Suhas Haldipurkar, Dr. Ranjit Dhaliwal, Dr. Partha Biswas, Dr. Rajesh Joshi, Dr. Suresh Joshi, Dr. Arvind Srinivasan, Dr. Yang Xiao, Venkat Sambandhamoorthy, Matthew Walden, Dr. Jean Marie Andre, Dr. Van Lansingh

 

​Awards

Albert Lee Ueltschi award for Simulation in Ophthalmology 

Al Ueltschi dedicated his life to saving lives, both as a pioneer in simulation training for aviation as founder of FlightSafety International, and during his decades of philanthropic work saving sight around the world as co-founder of Orbis International. In 2010, Al Ueltschi co-founded HelpMeSee with his son Jim Ueltschi.  HelpMeSee’s mission is to end blindness caused by cataract using high fidelity simulation and sophisticated courseware adapted from aviation to train thousands of cataract specialists to perform sight-restoring Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS). 

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His legacy is carried on today by the first recipient of this award: Dr. Glenn Strauss. For the past 3 decades, Dr. Strauss has dedicated his life to ophthalmology and treating the poor blind. In 1997, he began volunteering with Mercy Ships as an eye surgeon and provided training for their medical missions. Shortly after HelpMeSee was founded in 2010, Dr. Strauss agreed to join its simulation-based training project as a medical leader, writing the standardized MSICS procedure for the first time. Dr. Strauss oversaw the development of eye simulator from proof of concept to the current version.  Throughout the evolution of the simulator, Dr. Strauss served as the lead subject matter expert providing guidance to HelpMeSee and its partners to assure that the simulator accurately replicates the realism of a live cataract surgery.

 

Jim Ueltschi, chairman of HelpMeSee, said, “Glenn exemplifies the spirit, dedication and inspiration of those few people who make miracles happen. He is obviously a very talented ophthalmologist, but he also can write complicated surgical descriptions for simulator engineers, a truly remarkable and rare gift, believe me. Glenn is also a world-class humanitarian. My father would be very proud of him and his contributions to ending cataract blindness. It is fitting that he is the first recipient of this award.” 

Dr. Strauss is an inspiration for all ophthalmologists. He follows in Al Ueltschi's footsteps, paving the path to fighting cataract blindness through simulation-based training.  Thanks to Dr. Strauss’ lifelong dedication, millions of poor and needlessly blind people around the world finally have hope for a brighter future. 

 

Dr. Jatin Shah award for Excellence in MSICS

The late Dr. Jatin Shah (1954-2015) dedicated his life to restoring sight. He was a great philanthropist, working with NGOs and local governments. He leaves a legacy as an expert of excellence in MSICS and advocacy to save sight.

"By having the surgeons in those remote areas, covering a population of 250,000 minimum, they'll be able to eliminate the backlog of cataract blindness and also in the future add quality to treating cataract blindness." - Dr. Jatin Shah

The ISMSICS would like to present this award for Excellence in MSICS in memory of the late Dr. Shah, in recognition of his tireless efforts as a surgeon and in honor of his legacy training the next generation of cataract specialists around the world.

 

Excellence in Ophthalmic Manufacturing award

The ISMSICS is pleased to present Appasamy Associates with the Excellence in Ophthalmic Manufacturing award, given in recognition for their accomplishments manufacturing HelpMeSee’s single-use Surgical Kit for Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS).

Since 1978, Appasamy has been a leading manufacturer and distributor of ophthalmic equipment, microscopes, lasers, IOLs, microsurgical instruments and pharmaceuticals. Over the last three decades of work, Appasamy have been widely appreciated throughout the world.

Their dedication to support for eye care have become a benchmark among medical vendors, innovating with new manufacturing techniques to meet the needs and specifications of the ophthalmic community. As manufacturer of the first single-use, pre-sterilized surgical kit developed by HelpMeSee, Appasamy have revolutionized eye care by providing cataract specialists with all the instruments, tools, disposables, and pharmaceuticals needed to complete an MSICS procedure, even in the most remote regions of the world.

Appasamy Associates have become an industry leader, striving to make modern technology and equipment within the easy reach of ophthalmic surgeons and eye care professionals around the world.

Map​

At our public booth, HelpMeSee will provide demonstrations of its virtual reality Eye Surgical Simulator developed for rapid scale training of high-skilled cataract specialists.  To schedule your own demo, please register here, and use the map below to find HelpMeSee's booth.

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Click thumbnail to enlarge map and find HelpMeSee's public booth and events during CCC 2017!

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About ISMSICS

The International Society Of Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgeons (ISMSICS) is an organization to promote excellence and accessibility in cataract surgery. The organization aims to improve outcomes of cataract surgery while providing better vision to patients at an affordable cost. The organization is surgeon focused and surgeon driven- of, for and by cataract surgeons. ISMSICS is dedicated organization to research and development in the field of cataract surgery, especially manual small incision cataract surgery, to make cataract surgery more accessible, affordable and give patients the best of vision.

About HelpMeSee

HelpMeSee is a non-profit organization committed to ending the global health crisis of cataract blindness. HelpMeSee’s goal is to restore sight to more than 100 million individuals who are needlessly blind or disabled due to untreated cataracts.

Through a focus on simulation-based training for cataract specialists, HelpMeSee has developed sustainable solutions to increase access to safe, affordable treatment. Our goal is to have in place a sustainable solution to cataract surgical care, including a network of thousands of trained cataract specialists and community health workers to provide eye care across Africa, Asia and Latin America.