New training technology and simulation lab provides ophthalmology residents with valuable experience

New training technology and simulation lab provides ophthalmology residents with valuable experience

The addition of two new pieces of ophthalmic training equipment will provide West Virginia University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences residents with the opportunity to receive valuable hands-on training experience prior to working in the operating room.

Using funds secured from the generosity of donors, the Department was able to purchase a brand-new EyeSi surgical simulator and Alcon operating microscope in 2022, which were both installed in the WVU Eye Institute’s simulation lab in December.

The EyeSi is a virtual simulator that allows trainees to practice delicate surgical procedures such as cataract and retina surgery from the safety and comfort of a simulation lab prior to conducting surgeries on patients. The Alcon operating microscope is the exact same type of microscope that is used daily by Eye Institute ophthalmologists for various surgical procedures.

Residency Program Director Bradley Thuro, M.D., said the addition of the two pieces of equipment will go a long way towards achieving one of his biggest goals as program director.

“When I was named residency program director, I knew I wanted to develop a high-tech simulation lab for our residents with an accompanying surgical curriculum. These two additions are a huge step towards that goal, and I am excited about continuing to build up our lab over the coming years,” Dr. Thuro said.

WVU became one of the first universities to adopt the EyeSi simulator into its residency training program when the Department purchased the machine in 2007. Over the next decade-and-a-half, the EyeSi simulator provided residents with a way to improve their dexterity and surgical techniques, building their confidence levels prior to entering the operating room.

Thuro said that while the simulator proved a valuable tool for the 15 years it was in place at WVU, the underlying software and network of people who use the EyeSi has grown tremendously over the years, eventually making the machine at the Eye Institute obsolete.

In addition to general software improvements, the new EyeSi allows faculty to train residents through a well-defined set of modules and lets them see benchmark performance measures for residents from across the country who also use the EyeSi. Thuro said this allows faculty to identify areas for improvement in residents’ skills and gives them the ability to monitor each learner’s performance before they first conduct surgery on a patient.

While the EyeSi allows residents to practice procedures through computer simulation, the operating microscope in the simulation lab gives them the opportunity to practice hands-on with the same equipment they will later use in the operating room. In the simulation lab, residents can use the fully-functional operating microscope to practice microscope skills such as suturing and tissue manipulation using animal eyes as a proxy.

“In the coming years we will continue to work towards building an expansive and high-tech training lab here at WVU with multiple training stations and instructor audiovisual and simulation feedback.”

To learn more about the ophthalmology residency program at WVU, visit