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Dante J. Pieramici, Felix Heimann, Raymond Brassard, Giulio Barteselli, Shrirang Ranade; Virtual Reality Becomes a Reality for Ophthalmologic Surgical Clinical Trials. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(7):1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.7.1.
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The Port Delivery System with ranibizumab (PDS) is an innovative, investigational drug delivery system designed for continuous delivery of ranibizumab into the vitreous to maintain therapeutic drug concentrations for extended durations. The phase 2 Ladder trial (NCT02510794) tested the efficacy of three customized formulations of ranibizumab in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration, and the phase 3 Archway trial (NCT03677934) will further assess the safety and efficacy of PDS 100 mg/mL with fixed 24-week refills. The insertion of the PDS implant into the vitreous cavity and subsequent refill-exchange of the drug require procedural skills that are not directly transferable from everyday experience for most eye surgeons today. Preoperative practice for the PDS implant insertion and refill-exchange procedures is therefore critical for achieving optimal surgical outcomes. Virtual reality (VR) as a training tool has long been used by the aeronautic industry and more recently adapted for physician training in medicine and surgery, with encouraging results. Besides the primary use of traditional training tools, physicians participating in Archway have an option to practice in computer-simulated environments provided by VR simulators before performing their first PDS implant insertion and refill-exchange procedures on patients. This Perspective article describes the unique advantages and technologic challenges that practice on VR simulators has to offer, and the experience of Archway physicians with VR technology as a first in any ophthalmic clinical trial.
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