FORT WORTH, Texas, Aug. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HelpMeSee – a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness – and the Cornerstone Assistance Network – a nonprofit providing direct services to individuals and families struggling with poverty in, and around, Tarrant County, Texas – have teamed up to showcase a safe, low cost approach to curing cataract blindness through Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) and to run a side-by-side surgical procedure comparison with the latest proof-of-concept HelpMeSee MSICS Simulator.
During the live surgeries, a team of engineers from HelpMeSee simulation technology partners, Moog Industrial Group, a division of Moog Inc. (NYSE: MOG.A and MOG.B) – jointly selected to design and manufacture the simulator along with SenseGraphics and InSimo – will be on hand with the latest version of the MSICS Simulator. The main purpose of this comparative analysis is focused on fine-tuning the simulation system to ensure maximum realism of the completed training MSICS simulator.
Conducted by HelpMeSee's Chief Medical Officer, and Texas ophthalmologist, Dr. Glenn Strauss, in collaboration with the Cornerstone Charitable Clinic, seven local area citizens suffering from curable blindness due to cataracts will receive the cataract surgical procedure through the Cornerstone Assistance Network.
"We are proud to have Dr. Strauss and the HelpMeSee team at the Cornerstone Facility to provide sight-restoring cataract surgery to our local residents in need," said Lorene McCoy, director of health services, Cornerstone Charitable Clinic. "Cornerstone has a long history of helping those in need and we are proud to learn of HelpMeSee's global efforts to address cataract blindness."
HelpMeSee's organizational approach underlines the acknowledgement that MSICS is the best available technique to successfully address the nearly 22 million people suffering from cataract blindness globally.
"This is a historical step in the MSICS simulator development," said Dr. Glenn Strauss, chief medical officer, HelpMeSee. "By viewing live MSICS procedures, our engineering partners are able to accurately compare the performance of this leading edge simulator to the actual surgery. Realism not achieved in medical simulation previously."
Dr. Strauss added that the HelpMeSee MSICS Simulator – once completed, tested and validated by leading US and European University Ophthalmology programs – will be used to safely and efficiently train thousands of specialists in developing nations to perform MSICS for their own people.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, MSICS has been shown to give results comparable to the popular phacoemulsification procedure in terms of safety and quality of visual outcome. Although it's a relatively underutilized technique, MSICS is gaining popularity in many countries by virtue of its ability to manage both common, and difficult, cataracts very safely and with strong outcomes.
"A distinct advantage of MSICS over Phacoemulsification is that it can be used more safely to remove advanced cataracts in the developing world," said Dr. Strauss. "Patients with no access to care gradually develop cataracts that are much more advanced than those who can have an operation before the cataracts advances to blindness. This procedure is a perfect solution because the cost to provide it is much lower, while producing the same quality expected in modern cataract surgery."
Dr. Strauss explains that although phacoemulsification cataract surgery is considered the gold standard for cataract removal, it requires expensive machinery and an uninterrupted power source – both are challenges in the developing world where virtually all suffering from cataract blindness reside. Furthermore, the overall cost and maintenance of machinery and supplies for this procedure makes it cost-prohibitive for regions with inadequate infrastructure.
Throughout the world, untreated cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, making up 51% of all cases. Approximately 22 million people are bilaterally blind due to cataracts, and an estimated 167 million suffer from cataract visual impairment. The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of people afflicted by the debilitating condition live in developing countries, where their livelihoods and their families' wellbeing depends greatly on their eyesight. These populations lack access to high-quality medical services – preventing them from receiving the surgeries that could restore their vision.
HelpMeSee (www.HelpMeSee.org) is a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness endemic in developing countries. The HelpMeSee mission is make the sight-restoring surgery available to millions of poor through financial support and the training of thousands of highly skilled specialist cataract surgeons recruited from within their communities. HelpMeSee has designed and is now producing a virtual reality surgical simulator and training program to be implemented worldwide, adapted from extensive experience in simulator based aviation training.
About Cornerstone Assistance Network
Since its inception in 1992, Cornerstone (www.canetwork.org) has been committed to helping churches, organizations, and volunteers become involved in the lives of the people in their community. The Cornerstone Assistance Network Cataract Clinic is the nation's first charitable cataract facility providing treatment for the uninsured and economically disadvantaged. The Cataract Clinic is operated by Cornerstone Charitable Clinic, a Division of Cornerstone Assistance Network and gives hope and provides solutions for patients with loss of vision and no ability to pay for sight-restoring procedures.