The Eye-Si simulator is a surgical simulator that can be used by trainees to gain and develop surgical techniques which are utilised in ophthalmology. More information can be found in an EyeSi overview by Rubia Akhtar. This article aims to provide a personal user review of the simulator.
To begin with, I was unable to use the Eye-Si simulator until an assigned tutor provided me with a login – there was no option to register myself. Once I finally had the login, I was told I must use the machine supervised by someone on my first go – as there was no instructions or manual on how to use the equipment and the tools were very delicate.
The first thing I noticed on the model at my local department was that the touchscreen interface was not very responsive and it took a couple of attempts to finally login as the input lagged significantly. I was then prompted to change my password for the first time and then finally, I was able to attempt some of the skills.
It suddenly became extremely enjoyable despite being challenging for a first-time user. There were a number of foundation skills that would be tested such as anterior chamber navigation, bimanual skills and using specific equipment such forceps. Although instructions were not direct, they could easily be worked out after a couple of attempts… almost like a puzzle or game.
As expected, on my first few attempts my score was typically very low (or rather 0 in some simulations) however this improved after I familiarised myself with the equipment and the interface. At this point, my frustrations ended and I started to find myself enjoying the challenge of each level and also understanding the feedback a lot more comprehensively and even applying this to my next attempt. I found the microscope very accurate and the pedals for zooming in and out and focussing were simple to use as well as responsive.
Ergonomically speaking, the height of the microscope was adjustable and the ’robot head’ could be moved around flexibly giving plenty of freedom to sit comfortably. I am unaware if a stool is included with the model itself but this would provide a nice touch rather than improvising with a foldable chair or such. One thing that should be added was that this model was of the right eye which suited my right-handedness but the design of the model may have affected left-handed users due to the placement of the ‘incisions’ whereby you enter the mechanical eye.
After completing a number of hours of training, I wanted to see how I was doing. Fortunately, the Eye-Si simulator is able to provide a report which summarises training hours and scores which can help one track improvement or areas of weakness that may need more development. However, I was required to dig up an old USB to be able to download this report as there is no option of completing this digitally. Additionally, there was no other way to access the results instantly which meant I had to download onto the USB and then open the file on a PC to see how I was doing which seemed like a very long-winded method.
After using the system for a couple of months I realised there are a few things that would improve the experience. These include a better touchscreen monitor with more fluid responses and the ability to register independently. I believe a tutorial would also be very beneficial for first-time users and the ability to access the training report online would enable trainees to improve more efficiently. Despite this, overall, I found the experience very satisfying and would recommend the simulator to anyone interested in ophthalmology or even wanting to practice manual dexterity skills and I am very excited to continue using the Eye-Si.