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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Charity’s vision to fund new Eye Simulator is supported by £25k grant

March 20, 2023

Last summer, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Charity launched an appeal for support to fund a new surgical Eye Simulator to transform training for the next generation of eye surgeons across Dorset.

If funds can be raised, the new Eye Sim will be used by more than 75 surgeons for 30,000 sight saving operations. The vision to revolutionise surgery for common eye conditions like cataract and glaucoma with this pioneering machine is shared by Friends of the Bournemouth Eye Unit who have generously gifted a grant of £25,000 towards the appeal.

This technology costing £201,000 simulates the environment of surgery for common eye conditions, such as a cataract operation which can be very technically complex. Surgeons operate in a small cube of 5x5x5mm, having to account for the natural movement of the eye. To do this, the surgeon must first learn to work through a microscope instead of directly viewing the eye and manoeuvre the surgical instruments, with each hand and each leg operating different controls at the same time which is why this simulator forms an important part of surgical training.

The eye sim will not be used for patients visiting the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s eye unit but used for trainee surgeons at Bournemouth hospital and across the Wessex area to learn the skills needed to carry out eye operations safely and effectively before operating on patients.

Head Orthoptist and Optometry Service Manager, Julie Dowdney said; “Every penny raised to help purchase the most up to date surgical simulator to support our patients and advance training further than ever will result in more highly skilled surgeons and even more life-changing operations not just here in Bournemouth but for patients at local hospitals further afield. This grant couldn’t be put to better use than to save the sight of thousands of people each year.”

Head of University Hospitals Dorset NHS Charity, Debbie Anderson said; “This generous grant really helps us to move closer towards our total fundraising target which remains in sight, but we still have some way to go to be able to purchase this life-changing equipment. Thank you to everybody who has donated so far, you are helping us to make this vision a reality.”

When the first surgical simulator of this kind was purchased in 2013, it elevated training capabilities, making the Royal Bournemouth Hospital eye unit a cutting edge centre of excellence. However, recent advances in technology mean the current surgical simulator has been de-commissioned. Purchasing the next generation of this technology will ensure the Royal Bournemouth Hospital eye unit remains at the forefront of research, training and eye surgery over the next 10 years.

Purchasing an Eye Sim is a worthwhile investment for Dorset and Wessex and the future of eye surgery when you consider how many operations each of these surgeons will perform to give the gift of restored sight.