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Surgeons insert telescopic lens into Quebec City woman’s eye in Canadian first




A Quebec City surgical team has successfully implanted a telescopic lens in the eye of a woman with macular degeneration in what the ophthalmologist who operated on her says is a Canadian first.

“My biggest dream, and I think about this often, is to see the faces of my grandchildren,” said Jacqueline Rioux, who started having vision problems in her 30s and now, 40 years later, has lost about 90 per cent of her sight.  

Rioux underwent surgery to have a four-millimetre-thick telescopic lens, called an intraocular telescope — an implantable mini-telescope — inserted into her left eye.

The CentraSight implant, created by the American company VisionCare, is inserted using a similar technique to that used in cataract surgery. The company teaches ophthalmological surgeons how to adapt the operation to slip in the telescopic lens.  

The implantable mini-telescope is smaller than a Canadian quarter and about four millimetres thick. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

“This is the first time it’s been done in Canada, but all it takes is opening the door and eventually, I hope, the concept will develop, and more people will qualify,” Dr. Richard Bazin, the cornea expert who performed the surgery, told CBC’s Quebec AM.

He said the operation has been done hundreds of times in the United States and Europe.

Bazin, who works at Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement​, part of the Université Laval hospital network, said Rioux’s surgery went well.

An ideal candidate

Rioux’s operation was two years in the planning. 

First, the hospital had to approve it, then the staff and surgeon had to be trained, and then they set out to find a patient who was a good candidate for the surgery.

Jacqueline Rioux has been using tools like this one to help her focus on objects in front of her, but her Parkinson’s disease has further limited her ability to use handheld devices. (Radio-Canada)

Rioux qualified because she also has Parkinson’s disease, which means she has reduced motor skills, but the implant will free her from having to handle vision aids like a magnifying glass.

Until now, she’s used what her grandchildren call her “big eye” —  eyeglasses with a thick magnifier in the centre of one of the lenses to help her focus her vision.

She said she can’t focus on anything even just a few feet away, and when she tries, it becomes a dark or black blur. She cannot distinguish features or recognize people.

Months of rehab

At $20,000, the implant is expensive, and Bazin said he will not know how much vision Rioux, who is still in hospital, will gain from the surgery.  

“All I can say is her vision will be better off with the telescope, but I can’t say how much better off,” he said.

The surgery to insert the telescopic lens took about two hours, using a similar procedure to that used in cataract surgery. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

The two-hour operation leaves Rioux with one eye with only peripheral vision and one eye with a zoom in the centre, thanks to the telescopic lens.

“It’s sort of awkward to have a magnified image on one side and a normal image on the other side,” Bazin said.

“Unfortunately, even though the telescope seems to be doing marvels, it’s not something that could be used for everybody.”

Rioux now has to relearn to do perform the most basic functions, like walking.

She faces months of rehabilitation.

“I think it requires someone with a certain determination, which I have,” Rioux said. “I feel very privileged.”

Dr. Richard Bazin performed the surgery to implant a telescopic lens in Jacqueline Rioux’s eye, in what he says is the first operation of its kind in Canada. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

Rioux said she’s looking forward to the possibility of seeing the birds that come to a birdfeeder outside her window at home, and to cross-country skiing — a sport she already enjoys with her partner, but with the added bonus that she may now be able to see the trails.


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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton




OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training




Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test




While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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