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‘HelpMeSee’ launches Cataract Surgical Simulator to make India free of cataract blindness

‘HelpMeSee’ launches Cataract Surgical Simulator to make India free of cataract blindness
February 18, 2015 (New Delhi): HelpMeSee is a global campaign to end the public health crisis of cataract blindness in two decades globally. It is introducing the first-of-its-kind surgical training simulator in India to enable and train eye surgeons to handle cases of cataract, the country’s leading cause of preventable blindness. The simulator will train specialists in Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) to provide a safe, effective, and very low cost procedure to cure cataract blindness.
Simulator-based training for over 249 complications The MSICS simulator is a high-fidelity virtual reality simulator that will allow rapid scale-up of high quality training in the MSICS procedure. The highly advanced machine can provide surgical training for over 249 types of errors, complications and challenges that surgeons may face in the operating room during live cataract surgery. The simulator design provides for a virtual limitless number of ‘eyes’ for training with unparalleled visual realism and tactile feel. For the trainee and the instructor, it provides a ‘live’ surgical experience, including pre-existing conditions and all complications. This replaces traditional MSICS training which, up until now, was performed on live patients with associated risks.
“HelpMeSee supports highest quality cataract surgery at a cost of no more than US$50 anywhere in the world,” said Mohan Jacob Thazhathu, President & CEO, HelpMeSee. “Access to affordable, high quality surgery restores the life and dignity of every person suffering from cataract blindness,” he added.
Reaching out to the community through smartphone apps HelpMeSee recently launched a partnership with HelpAge India to tackle cataract blindness across the country. It aims at providing training to 30,000 MSICS specialists (mostly women) globally to ensure that blindness from cataract is eliminated. The campaign has also set up a community-based mobilization monitoring system through a GIS-GPS app to empower community health workers to map patient locations and connect them to partner surgeons.
HelpMeSee has formulated a unique and an all-round strategy for its India campaign. Besides training doctors on its MCICS simulator, it has a cloud-based surgical reporting system to support quality assurance of all operations. Once a patient is discharged, it has a comprehensive patient follow-up and patient care system. To provide safe care, HelpMeSee has also developed a pre-sterilized, single-use surgical kit to minimize the risk of infection and
enable surgical specialists to work in the most remote areas.
The social-economic burden of blindness According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 20 million people who are blind due to cataract. It is estimated that India accounts for the largest number of blind people
in the world with over 20 per cent of the global blind people in India alone. Cataracts are also the leading cause of road accidents in India, according to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Blindness from cataract creates an enormous burden on families, care-givers, communities and the world. It results in very poor quality of life, reduces life expectancy, and causes huge losses in economic productivity, estimated to be as much as $1 trillion in lost GDP globally every year. To tackle the problem of blindness in Indian society, the Government of India started the National Programme for Control of Blindness in 1976, with the aim of reducing the prevalence of blindness from 1.4% to 0.3%.
Venkat Sambandhamoorthy, Chief of Campaign and Field Operations, says the HelpMeSee mission intends to align itself with the Government of India’s vision to make the country a cataract-backlog free zone and cure cataract blindness in every district of the country. He says, “HelpMeSee will support the Central Government in all possible ways to make the campaign of cataract backlog eradication a success.”

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