First live international eye surgery event hosted at Southlands Hospital

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Mr Giampaolo Gini (looking through a microscope) performing the first ever live international eye surgery event at Southlands Hospital.

Leading eye consultant, Mr Giampaolo Gini, shared his expertise with doctors around the world in Sussex’s first live international eye surgery event.

The University Hospitals Sussex ophthalmologist broadcast operations live from the specialist eye unit at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham.

The event focused on treatments for conditions affecting the back of the eye and also screened operations from hospitals in Italy, Egypt and Turkey. It was watched by around 1,000 retina experts in more than 130 countries.

During the broadcast on April 22, each surgeon showed what they were doing to the international audience through a camera on their operating microscope. They were also kitted out with headphones and a microphone to answer any questions.

Mr Gini is also the president of the European VitreoRetinal Society, which organised the event.  

He said: “The purpose of live surgery is to show exactly how a surgeon carries out routine procedures in their theatre, as a teaching exercise.

“It can be very stressful for the surgeon but very useful to the audience of qualified surgeons who can ask questions in real-time and learn first-hand tips for their practice. Events like this help train people to become better surgeons so that they can deliver high quality patient care.” 

Throughout the day, Mr Gini treated patients with a range of retina conditions. 

One of his patients was 32-year-old Nathaniel Morales from Worthing, who was referred to Southlands Hospital following a routine optician’s appointment late last year.

Nathaniel said: “The vision in my right eye was getting cloudier and I was suffering with headaches. At Southlands, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy (FEVR), which was causing retinal detachment”..

Retinal detachment is a serious condition where the thin layer at the back of the eye becomes loose. It needs urgent treatment to prevent permanent vision loss.

“The surgery was successful, but scary as I was awake and could hear the tools being used and feel strange sensations. Mr Gini and his team were absolutely fantastic throughout,” he added.

During the live event, Mr Gini also implanted a valve device in one patient to control pressure within the eye. He also surgically treated a patient with prolonged infection of the eye and one with a retina condition related to severe short-sightedness (high myopia). 

Each month, the eye unit at Southlands Hospital sees more than 5,000 patients and performs more than 370 eye operations for a variety of conditions. 

The unit underwent a £7.5 million redevelopment in 2017, offering patients the latest ways of working, and a more patient-centred approach to eye care.  

Mr Gini added: “I’m incredibly proud of the theatre staff who, day in day out, help deliver high quality patient care. And I’m grateful to them for the part they played in the event’s success. We hope to host more of these events in the future, driving forward the continuous improvement of ophthalmic care.”