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Not for the squeamish: Doctor to live stream eye surgery Thursday

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It may not be for the squeamish but it could be interest to medical students, or anyone thinking of undertaking the same procedure, or simply those curious to see what happens when a surgeon takes a sharp implement to an eye. My spherical-shaped light-detecting organs are watering just thinking about it.

Using video streaming service Ustream, Salt Lake City eye surgeon Dr. Robert Rivera of the Hoopes Vision Institute will broadcast live his implantable contact lens (ICL) operation as he performs it on a patient.

Talking to Mashable about Thursday’s broadcast, Rivera says it’s an opportunity to help those interested learn more about corrective eye surgery, and bring attention to a procedure different to that of the better-known Lasik method. Whereas Lasik surgery involves the use of a laser to alter the shape of the cornea and cannot be reversed, the ICL procedure involves making a small incision in the eye before inserting a tiny contact lens in front of the eye’s own lens. Furthermore, it’s an operation that can be reversed and is one in which no lasers are used.

“We want everybody to watch this,” Rivera said. “It’s groundbreaking. It’s a whole new area of medical education and the potential is completely untapped. What’s nice about this is anyone in any country with Internet access can log on and watch right away.”

So what can viewers expect from Rivera’s broadcast? Kicking off at 8.30pm ET Thursday on his Ustream channel, the doctor will talk for around an hour about the procedure, explaining what he’s going to show you and the expected results and benefits for the patient following the operation. The operation will then get underway.

Using Ustream’s chat feature, viewers will be able to send in any comments and questions they may have while they watch. Rivera plans to answer as many of these as possible, though presumably not when his blade is anywhere near the patient’s eye.

While there have been TV porgrams in the past showing live surgical procedures, it’s not often a surgeon takes to the Internet to broadcast an operation, interacting with viewers in the process. Let’s just hope he can keep focused on the task in hand.

[Image: Arena Creative / Shutterstock]