Like many patients weighing surgery, Josh Leavitt of Salt Lake City is performing his due diligence reading up on corrective eye procedures, consulting medical pros and talking to others who have had similar operations.
But on Thursday, Leavitt will be able to add a more unusual item to that list of background information watching live video of his potential surgery broadcast publicly on the Internet.
How? Dr. Robert Rivera of the Hoopes Vision Institute in Salt Lake City will use Ustream to broadcast his implantable contact lens (ICL) operation on a female patient. He says he wants to provide the live broadcast not only for prospective customers for his own private practice, but also to educate people all around the world about the corrective alternative to the more well known Lasik surgery.
"We want everybody to watch this," Rivera told Mashable in an interview. "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."
ICL surgery implants a small contact lens in front of the eye's natural lens via tiny incision in the eye. The operation does not remove any tissue from the cornea and, unlike Lasik, it's reversible and does not involve lasers. It takes about 10 minutes for each eye, Dr. Rivera says, and patients are able to walk out of the operating room with "high-definition level" vision right after.
The primary Ustream feed will show what Dr. Rivera sees through his microscope a close-up of the eye tissue and the tips of his surgical tools. Another camera will record a wider shot of doctor and patient.
Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital system recently live broadcast open-heart and brain surgeries using Twitter, Storify, graphic photos and videos and other tools and platforms. Nonetheless, examples of doctors using the Internet to viscerally relay surgeries to the public in real time are extremely rare at best.
Dr. Rivera live streamed an ICL operation last August, primarily for a group of optometrists interested in the procedure, and has similarly performed the surgery for observers inside the operating room. But this will be his fist attempt to reach as wide an audience as possible.
You can watch on his Ustream channel. (A recording of his August procedure is still there.) The broadcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET with around an hour of comments by Dr. Rivera, followed by the actual procedure.
Viewers will be able to submit their own questions and comments via Ustream's chat feature, and Dr. Rivera will answer as many as possible in between narrating the operation.
Among those following along will be Leavitt, the prospective patient considering ICL surgery. He says watching the live stream will have a "pretty large impact" on what he decides to do, and that he'll pay especially close attention to how the patient feels immediately following the operation.
"Some people might get turned off by the idea of seeing someone's eye getting worked on, but it will allay other people's fears," Leavitt told Mashable. "Seeing the procedure itself will make me less nervous about having someone put a blade in my eye."
Thumbnail image via iStockphoto, LuisPortugal