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Innovative VR Training Revolutionizes Global Eye Surgery Education


Benjamin Hughes

April 5, 2024 - 11:57 am


Revolutionary VR Technology Empowers Eye Surgeons Worldwide

A Pioneering Partnership

Orbis International, a global non-profit organization, in collaboration with FundamentalVR, a trailblazer in developing virtual reality surgical training tools, has created an innovative solution that is set to redefine surgical education. Utilizing cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) and readily available hardware, they have crafted a unique training instrument. This tool is specifically engineered to enable eye care professionals in areas with limited resources to master the techniques required to perform cataract surgery—a procedure capable of reversing blindness. Cataracts, despite being correctable through a straightforward surgical operation, remain the primary cause of visual impairment globally.

Bridging the Access Gap in Ophthalmic Education

The primary goal of this initiative is to serve surgeons in low- to middle-income regions, where the vast majority of the population suffering from vision loss resides. These communities often encounter significant barriers in obtaining quality eye care. Introduced at the renowned American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Annual Meeting on April 5, 2024, the VR device stands out as an affordable, portable, and scalable solution, aimed at supporting students and residents in developing their surgical skills for cataract treatment.

Innovation in Service of Global Vision

The cooperation between Orbis and the technology experts at FundamentalVR has led to a VR-based tool that seamlessly integrates immersive VR environments, haptic feedback, cloud-based performance analysis, and conventional gaming hardware. This convergence of technology provides an authentic, tactile experience that simulates real-world surgery, allowing practitioners to rehearse intricate procedures until they have a firm grasp of both fundamental and complex eye surgery methods.

Dr. Hunter Cherwek from Orbis, as the Vice President of Clinical Services and Technologies, emphasized the keen awareness of a pressing need that this partnership could fulfill. He noted the drawbacks of existing simulation training resources, which often come with a high price tag, lack easy portability or ready availability, and generally, teach advanced surgical techniques not commonly practiced in lower-resourced areas. With FundamentalVR's cooperation, Orbis has been able to bring to fruition a VR solution that democratizes access to cataract surgical training regardless of geographic location.

The educational tool promotes independent learning by providing automatic tracking and rich feedback on performance. This feature is especially beneficial for medical professionals who lack extensive ophthalmic training opportunities. By first practicing in a simulated environment, residents can fine-tune their skills confidently and competently before stepping into an actual operating room. Numerous studies have validated that simulation training results in improved surgical proficiency. Complementing the usage of the VR tool, learners also have access to Cybersight, the telemedicine and e-learning platform developed by Orbis.

Richard Vincent, co-founder, and CEO of FundamentalVR, conveyed his company's dedication to pushing the boundaries of ophthalmology by harnessing the transformative power of VR. The goal is to enhance patient care and set a new benchmark for surgical expertise worldwide, thereby enriching the caliber of healthcare across various nations.

An Affordable and Targeted Approach

The VR training tool is exemplary not only due to its pioneering technology but also because of its accessibility. It utilizes cost-effective gaming equipment, making it a financially viable option for partners operating on limited budgets. Moreover, it focuses on manual small-incision cataract surgery—the predominant technique employed in less affluent countries—thus better preparing eye care professionals for the surgeries they are most likely to perform in their local communities.

Global Impact and Future Goals

The VR surgical training device has already been implemented in partner hospitals located in Bangladesh, China, Mongolia, Ethiopia, and India. It has quickly become a vital component of ophthalmic instruction in these areas. In Bangladesh, the application of surgery simulation is advancing to a national level, as efforts are being made to integrate it into the country's nationwide ophthalmology curriculum. This step could see Bangladesh join a league of pioneering nations mandating the use of surgical simulations in their educational frameworks for eye care.

In a recent marketing campaign, the tool was highlighted as a prime example of how the metaverse is revolutionizing various industries, including healthcare. Looking ahead, Orbis plans to employ VR solutions to train medical professionals in handling other eye conditions like glaucoma and strabismus, thus extending valuable eye care to more people around the globe.

The development of this cutting-edge training tool was made possible with financial support from the Silicon Valley Orbis Innovation Fund, which counts John A. and Susan Sobrato, Connie and Bob Lurie, Dr. David F. and Victoria A. Chang, as well as the ASCRS Foundation among its generous donors.

About Orbis

Orbis International showcases its unwavering commitment to addressing avoidable blindness and visual impairment. Approximately 1 billion individuals globally suffer from preventable sight loss. For over 40 years, Orbis has devoted itself to resolving this major health concern by fostering robust and self-sustaining eye care systems that leave a lasting effect. The organization's efforts span over 200 countries and regions, focusing on dedicated programs across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. They also deploy innovative training and technology initiatives, including the award-winning Cybersight, and operate the singular Flying Eye Hospital, an accredited ophthalmic teaching institute aboard an MD-10 aircraft.

Orbis's dedication to financial integrity and transparency has been recognized with Charity Navigator's prestigious four-star rating for ten consecutive years, securing it a position in the top echelon of U.S. charities. Additionally, GuideStar has awarded Orbis their platinum Seal of Transparency for the past two years. Orbis has also achieved "accredited charity" status with the Better Business Bureau, satisfying all of their stringent standards for charity accountability. More information can be found at Orbis's official website,

About FundamentalVR

FundamentalVR stands at the forefront of immersive surgical education as a preeminent provider of virtual training for the medical and surgical communities. With the mission of expediting human capability within the realms of surgery and medicine through virtual technology, they are committed to enhancing patient care outcomes. FundamentalVR facilitates the transition toward digital surgery, bridging the competency void in training for technologically advanced operating rooms.

Their flagship platform offers comprehensive rehearsal for medical and surgical procedures. The company's unique HapticVR™ technology simulates the touch, weight, resistance, and feel of real-life surgeries, accurately recreating the texture experience of handling soft tissues, bones, and muscles. Pioneering the way in global surgical training with over 15,000 training sessions, FundamentalVR maintains accreditations and affiliations with prominent institutions such as AAO, AAOS, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Explore more about their mission and services at

Media Contacts

For any inquiries, the following individuals can be contacted for Orbis International and FundamentalVR:

Orbis International
Jenna Montgomery
Manager, Global Communications and Marketing
Email: Jenna Montgomery's Email

Alessandra Fusar Poli
Email: Alessandra Fusar Poli's Email

In conclusion, the partnership between Orbis International and FundamentalVR marks a significant step forward in the battle against blindness. With their VR training tool, they aim to empower eye care professionals across the globe with the skills necessary to transform lives through surgery. This initiative reflects the power of technology to create innovative solutions for some of the world's most pressing healthcare challenges. Furthermore, their work is a testament to the impact that can be made when expertise, compassion, and cutting-edge technology come together. As Orbis and FundamentalVR continue to expand their offerings and forge ahead with their mission, countless individuals in need of improved vision will benefit, leading to more inclusive and accessible global eye care.