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Posted on May 5, 2019

HelpMeSee and Eye Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Launch Pilot for Innovative Simulation Training Program to Reduce Cataract Blindness in China

Today, HelpMeSee and Eye Hospital Wenzhou Medical University (EH-WMU) in China inaugurated the Sclerocorneal Tunnel Construction Course (STCC) to their first class of ophthalmology residents. STCC incorporates surgical skills instruction and practice utilizing two HelpMeSee Eye Surgery Simulators located in the Simulation Training Center of EH-WMU. It is the first step in a collaboration aiming to integrate the HelpMeSee Simulator-based training program into EH-WMU’s residency training program.  In development since 2013, the STCC is a critical step in learning to perform Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS).  The MSICS procedure is an effective, low-cost surgery that restores sight to the cataract blind within days. 

HelpMeSee’s STCC requires specially trained instructors. After six weeks of full-time training and a month of follow-up practice, EH-WMU’s Dr. Xu Xu, Head of the Simulation Training Center and Dr. Zelin Zhao recently passed the series of HelpMeSee training assessments that they are qualified to become HelpMeSee qualified Instructors.

Approximately 100 million people worldwide suffer from unnecessary blindness or visual impairment due to untreated cataract. Over 2.5 million of these patients are in China. More eye surgeons are needed in China to treat these patients. This partnership with HelpMeSee and EH-WMU is an innovative program to address this demand.  We think that medical simulation with structured courses and effective teaching methods well integrated into the existing residency training system may be the solution to train eye surgeons. 

They will be guided by Wenzhou instructors/surgeons and going through study the standardized learning process of the HelpMeSee eBook (e-version reading material for medical knowledge) study, simulator-based STCC training, transitional training and stepwise live surgical practice.

Discussing the advanced nature of HelpMeSee training, Dr. Xu Xu explains that:

“In the past, a doctor would instruct at most one or two students over a long learning cycle. The use of a high-fidelity simulation-based surgical training system, with accurate data analysis and targeted guidance, provides students with unlimited practice sessions and improved mentoring in a standardized format. This type of training enables students to master surgical skills at an accelerated pace.”

Dr. Xu Xu

Deputy Director of Cataract Center, Eye Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University - Wenzhou, China

In regard to simulation, Jon Pollack, HelpMeSee Chief of Training Operations, noted that:

“Medical simulators are excellent at providing practice opportunities and the STCC program is the first built around using simulation as a systematic component of surgery training. Simulation practice in STCC is not an adjunct, but a stepwise integration into the teaching curriculum. Residents learning STCC at EH-WMU will study the scleral tunnel incision procedure and then practice that on the Simulator.  As an additional benefit, the Simulator alleviates the need for organic tissue, increasing opportunities for practice and the ability to program complications.”

Jon Pollack

Chief of Training Operations, HelpMeSee - U.S.A.

Professor Qu Jia, President of EH-WMU, added:

“This is yet another innovation in our teaching model that will not only help produce high-quality surgeons on a large scale but also minimize patient’s risk. In the future, Eye Hospital will work together with HelpMeSee to push forward simulation-based ophthalmic surgery training and rapidly increase the numbers of Chinese medical experts skilled in treating cataracts.”

Professor Qu Jia

President, Wenzhou Medical University - Wenzhou, China

About Eye Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University

Founded in 1998,  Eye Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University (Zhejiang Eye Hospital) with its general hospital in Wenzhou, Hangzhou Branch and Zhejiang Branch is the only medical institution in China that has a national key discipline of clinical ophthalmology and an outstanding key laboratory designated by the Ministry of Health. As a nationally advanced collective in the medical and health care system, the Hospital is the only Grade A eye hospital in Zhejiang. Thanks to its integrated and comprehensive strength in medical service, teaching and training, scientific research, industrialization of research findings, public welfare and promotion, the hospital ranks the first in China for ophthalmology and optometry education, the second for scientific research strength in the field of ophthalmology, and is one of the top five hospitals for ophthalmology in China.

About HelpMeSee

HelpMeSee is a non-profit organization committed to ending the global health crisis of cataract blindness. Focusing on simulation-based training for cataract specialists, HelpMeSee develops sustainable solutions to increase access to safe, affordable treatment. Led by a network of trained cataract specialists, HelpMeSee aims to expand access to cataract surgical care and improve the quality of eye care across the developing world.

CONTACT: 1-212-221-7605, pr@helpmesee.org

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