For the past month and a half, Surrey Memorial Hospital has been home to a “groundbreaking” new technology for eye surgery, says a retinal surgeon.
The Surrey Hospitals Foundation has invested $290,000 for two digitally assisted 3D visualization systems for retinal surgery at Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.
Dr. Steve Levasseur, a retinal surgeon and the department head of vitreoretinal surgery, said it’s the first in B.C.
With the technology, Levasseur said, it has a 3D viewing device “that allows us to provide very extreme high magnification surgeries on delicate tissue with great resolution and better depth of focus.
“As a surgeon, the more you see, obviously the better you can appreciate the tissue and the more you have the ability to achieve the outcome that you’re striving for, which is excellence.”
Levasseur is one of six members of the surgical retinal team that provides care for patients, not only in Surrey and the Fraser Health region but the entire province.
He said the team performs roughly 2,500 surgeries per year.
Retinal diseases, according to the hospitals foundation, are the number-one cause of blindness in the developed world. About one-in-seven Canadians have eye diseases that put them at risk of losing their vision, and as Canada’s population ages that number is expected to double.
“That goes from retinal detachments, complicated cataract surgeries, bleeding in the eye from diabetics, among many others,” Levasseur explained.
And “if not addressed properly, (it) will lead to irreversible blindness,” he said.
Prior to the the 3D technology, Levasseur said only the surgeon would be able to see what’s happening in the eye.
“Before, when we were looking through the microscope we would have these oculars, a very small view, and here we can see we have a 55-inch viewing system, so everything is so magnified.”
Working with Levasseur is Dr. Festus Kwakye, a medical fellow from Ghana. Levasseur said he met Kwakye in Ghana and “he was the all-star there.”
Having Kwakye as a fellow provides an opportunity for him to “learn the skillset required in a very rapid manner, so that when he returns home, he will be a world leader in this field.”
As for Kwakye, getting to working with this new technology has been exciting.
“When I get one into Ghana, it’s going to be the very first in Africa.”