FEATURE | Posted Feb. 19, 2014

The future of ophthalmology

New state-of-the-art facility advances the skills of eye surgeons

Natasha Kye © UC Regents
Medical residents like Natasha Kye can use the new training lab to refine their skills in surgical procedures that require the use of high-powered microscopes.

The UC Davis Eye Center has opened a new state-of-the-art facility for teaching microsurgery techniques to the next generation of surgeons. Called the Lanie Albrecht Foundation Microsurgical Training Laboratory, the facility allows medical students and residents in ophthalmology and other specialties — including neurosurgery, orthopaedics, plastic surgery and veterinary medicine — to finesse their skills at performing surgeries that require the use of high-powered microscopes.

“This lab is all about enhancing the quality of patient care,” said Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances at UC Davis.

“By establishing this technology-enabled learning environment, our medical residents can further refine their skills before entering the operating room.”

Funded entirely through a generous gift from the Lanie Albrecht Foundation, the new facility has seven fully-equipped learning stations that ophthalmology residents can use to practice procedures such as corneal and retinal surgeries, cataract surgery and restorative oculoplastic surgery using grapes or animal eyes. Their work can be projected onto a high-resolution screen so faculty physicians can guide the process. Training sessions also can be recorded for analysis or to track milestones in each trainee’s progress.

“Practice in a controlled environment is a crucial part of becoming a skilled surgeon, and the new lab makes that possible,” said ophthalmology resident Natasha Kye.

“Residents have always gained high quality surgical training at UC Davis,” added Mark Mannis, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. “But this wonderful new facility enables us to nurture the next generation of surgeons at a whole new level.”