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Media Release

Alcon Introduces State-of-the-Art Virtual Reality Surgical Training Technology

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  • Alcon Fidelis Virtual Reality Ophthalmic Surgical Simulator upskills surgeons-in-training through sight, sound, touch and remote coaching from anywhere in the world
  • Surgical simulators have been shown to help improve operating room performance and address key training barriers1
  • Fidelis VR Simulators will first be used in the Alcon Phaco Development program, focused on eye care access in developing markets, followed by teaching and residency programs later this year

GENEVA, April 12, 2022 – Alcon (SIX/NYSE: ALC), the global leader in eye care dedicated to helping people see brilliantly, today reinforced its longstanding commitment to surgeon training and education with the Alcon Fidelis™ Virtual Reality (VR) Ophthalmic Surgical Simulator, a portable VR tool for cataract surgeons-in-training. As part of the Alcon Experience Academy, the VR simulator offers a high-fidelity, virtual operating room environment with haptic feedback to simulate the look and feel of cataract surgery.2 The simulator can be used from any location around the world with the ability to invite others to join virtual instruction and training sessions.

Alcon’s latest innovation in surgical training is an important step in increasing access to surgical simulators around the world. The eye care industry has already seen benefits of improved performance in the operating room (OR) through surgical simulators – with a study showing a 38% rate of improvement for surgeons with fewer than 75 independent surgeries performed.1* Providing cutting-edge options for realistic, remote surgical training can help mitigate some of the time constraints ophthalmologists are facing, as well as provide access to educational tools for those in countries where training resources are limited.

“At Alcon, we have a long history of partnering with institutions and providing world-class training to support the development of Eye Care Professionals,” said Rustin Floyd, Global Director and Head, Health Care Professional Training & Education. “Similar to our approach to product innovation, we continually strive to help ophthalmologists deliver optimal patient outcomes through innovation in training and education. By developing and offering these ophthalmic training tools, we are also helping enable greater access to quality eye care in underserved communities.”

The portable Fidelis VR Ophthalmic Surgical Simulator features:

  • A VR headset, two haptic engines and an integrated Centurion® footswitch
  • A realistic virtual OR environment, complete with Alcon equipment
  • The ability to connect with other remote users and instructors within the same virtual OR
  • Real-time feedback and performance tracking over time to enhance surgeon technique

Alcon’s Fidelis VR Ophthalmic Surgical Simulator will be introduced at the upcoming American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) meeting, where surgeons can experience Fidelis first-hand. Following ASCRS, Alcon will be providing Fidelis VR Simulators to its Phaco Development (PD) program, which is designed to elevate techniques and skillsets of surgeons through training in developing markets to establish sustainable cataract and patient care services in underserved communities. The PD program is a core part of Alcon’s corporate social responsibility efforts to increase access to quality eye care through training and skills-transfer, with the goal of improving sight for people around the world. Fidelis will be available to teaching and residency programs later this year.

“Providing new training and educational offerings is invaluable to surgeons who are learning about Alcon technology and honing their skills. The 3D view from the Fidelis VR Simulator will help my residents become acquainted with the ambience of an operating room – giving them even more confidence and preparation for surgery itself,” said Jeff Caspar, M.D. at UC Davis Health Eye Center.** “The need for remote, digital resources in ophthalmology has never been greater. It’s encouraging to see Alcon deliver these new technologies for surgeons-in-training.” 

The Fidelis VR Surgical Simulator will also offer virtual reality experiences on ocular anatomy and physiology to help educate Eye Care Professionals. Surgeons will be able to demo the Fidelis VR Simulator at the ASCRS Alcon booth #1411. For more information, please visit www.AlconExperienceAcademy.com.

About Cataracts

A cataract is a cloudy area in the natural lens of the eye that affects vision. As a cataract develops, the eye's lens gradually becomes hard and cloudy, allowing less light to pass through, which makes it more difficult to see. The vast majority of cataracts result from normal aging, but radiation exposure, taking steroids, diabetes and eye trauma can accelerate their development. Cataracts are the most common age-related eye condition and the leading cause of treatable blindness.3 Cataracts are treated by removing the eye's cloudy natural lens and surgically replacing it with an intraocular lens or IOL. More than 92% of cataract surgeries are considered successful, and patients typically can return to their normal routines within 24 hours.4

About The Alcon Experience Academy

The Alcon Experience Academy is the umbrella for Alcon’s industry-leading training for Eye Care Professionals, supporting staff, residents and students – whether in person, online or through other hands-on experiential learning opportunities. The Alcon Experience Academy offers thousands of courses every year, from immersive virtual reality training and online educational courses, to in-person training at Alcon Experience Centers worldwide. The Alcon Experience Academy website provides training and education resources on disease states, as well as the latest advancements in techniques and approaches for the safe and effective use of Alcon technology.

About the Phaco Development Program

Alcon established its Phaco Development program in 2009. This program has a bold mission: to establish sustainable cataract and patient care services in underserved communities. The program starts with pre-course support and an intensive training program that combines theory and wet lab surgery experiences with artificial eyes, including guided hands-on surgical practice training in some markets. An experienced Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon leads this portion together with the Alcon Phaco Development Specialists, who assist participants with surgical equipment and techniques. As of February 2022, Alcon’s Phaco Development program has trained nearly 5,400 surgeons, resulting in more than 7 million Phaco procedures for cataract treatment.

About Alcon

Alcon helps people see brilliantly. As the global leader in eye care with a heritage spanning over 75 years, we offer the broadest portfolio of products to enhance sight and improve people’s lives. Our Surgical and Vision Care products touch the lives of more than 260 million people in over 140 countries each year living with conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases and refractive errors. Our more than 24,000 associates are enhancing the quality of life through innovative products, partnerships with Eye Care Professionals and programs that advance access to quality eye care. Learn more at www.alcon.com.

*n=18 cataract surgeons, p<0.05, Performance improvement based on average OSACSS rating scale of three cataract surgeries without complications before and after Proficiency-based training on VRmagic EyeSi simulator.

**Paid consultant of Alcon.


  1. Skou Thomsen A, Bach-Holm D, Kjaerbo H, et al. Operating Room Performance Improves After Proficiency-Based Virtual Reality Cataract Surgery Training. National Institute of Health. 2017 April. Doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.11.015.Epub 2016 Dec 22. PMID: 28017423. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28017423/.
  2. Alcon Data on File, 2022.
  3. Flaxman, Seth R., et al. (2017). Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990-2020: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Cataracts in Adults: Management. Accessed September 2020. 

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