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AAO 2023: FundamentalVR and AAO team up for pediatric ophthalmic training VR program

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The collaboration, fueled by a $5 million donation from Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF), will introduce a free and open VR simulation program for ophthalmologists and trainees worldwide.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/toxicoz)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/toxicoz)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is teaming up with FundamentalVR for their Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) Pediatric Ophthalmology VR Simulation Program.

In a press release provided to Ophthalmology Times by AAO, it is stated the collaboration was made possible by a donation of $5 million from KTEF, and it “marks a significant step towards revolutionizing pediatric ophthalmic training by harnessing the power of VR technology through a free and open simulation program for ophthalmologists and ophthalmology trainees worldwide.”

Furthermore, the Academy has chosen to partner with FundamentalVR to design and build a specialized curriculum for pediatric eye care, with subsequent modules to address strabismus management and other critical pediatric ophthalmology topics.

Faruk H Orge, MD, executive editor of the KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center, discussed the significance of the partnership in the press release.

“The potential to improve training programs is huge,” said Orge. “Just as virtual reality has greatly enhanced the experience of video games, so can being immersed in a virtual surgical training environment. Studies show that it allows residents to learn details more efficiently and effectively, leading to a decrease in complications in actual cases with real patients. There is simply no substitute to performing a task again and again to master the basics. These platforms provide a safe, lifelike environment in which trainees can practice as much as they want, with real-time feedback that allows for course correction.”

The first phase of the initiative focuses on building a simulator for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

“ROP is a natural first choice for this effort because it is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide,” said K. David Epley, MD, deputy executive editor of the KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center. “At the same time, the opportunity for trainees to learn how to properly examine and treat babies is limited. Outside of the US many countries don’t allow residents to perform any pediatric surgeries, so there’s huge need for the ability to practice and learn proper techniques.”

AAO 2023 attendees can experience a live demonstration of the VR platform at the Resource Center, Moscone West Expo, Booth 7537.

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