Surgeons, residents and students can now study the latest advancements and techniques in ophthalmology and optometry at a newly opened global training center on the campus of Fort Worth-based Alcon.
On Dec. 4, Alcon, the eye care division of Swiss drug maker Novartis International AG, officially unveiled the Alcon Experience Center, a 36,000-square-foot facility that provides hands-on training for Alcon customers and associates.
“This center represents Alcon’s commitment to enhancing quality of life by helping people see better,” said Jeff George, Alcon’s global head. “It is our first comprehensive eye health training and education center that integrates products and technologies from our three divisions: surgical, ophthalmic pharmaceuticals and vision care.”
Upon entering the facility, visitors are greeted by an interactive digital wall that broadcasts the daily highlights of the center.
The 36,000-square-foot space features a simulated optometric training clinic and a wet lab with 12 stations outfitted with microscopes and advanced instrumentation for interactive training in ophthalmic surgery. There’s also a surgical suite that replicates an actual ophthalmic surgery suite, with a fully-equipped operating room and a refractive laser suite. The OR showcases Alcon’s most up-to-date cataract technologies for training.
Resembling a neighborhood pharmacy, the center’s OTC (over-the-counter) Innovation Studio is stocked with current retailer eye care products for shoppers, retailers and Alcon sales and marketing teams to test and validate.
The new education facility gives doctors a chance to become immersed in advanced technology within a realistic experience, which can improve patient outcomes and their quality of life, according to surgeon and clinician, Dr. Stephen Lane.
“The Alcon Experience Center allows the surgeon and staff to see first-hand an accurate footprint of the technology, how they can enact the procedure and visualize patient flow as if in their own surgery center. This will help surgeons improve OR efficiency and at the same time maximize the patient experience,” Lane said.
Lane, medical director at Associated Eye Care in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and adjunct clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota, has been affiliated with Alcon for more than 30 years.
“The better the training and educational experience doctors can have, the better the chances are for improved outcomes at every level of the practice,” Lane said. “Once again, Alcon has shown their leadership and raised the bar by committing novel resources to physician education and training.”
The Alcon Experience Center also hosts high school and university students throughout the North Texas region as part of its efforts to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The eye health education and training center also represents Alcon’s ongoing commitment to invest in Fort Worth and the North Texas region, the company’s home since its founding in 1945, George said. The Alcon Experience Center was the first capital project he approved since becoming global head in 2014.
Novartis recently opened a 37,000-square-foot, $53 million data center on Alcon’s Fort Worth campus. Additionally, Alcon is investing in renovations to some office buildings and broke ground in December for a new cafeteria.
The three Alcon businesses generated net sales of $10.8 billion in 2014. Alcon has more than 25,000 employees worldwide – including 5,000 employees in the Fort Worth-Dallas area – with operations in 75 countries and products available in 180 markets.