Feature: How the Grid Helps You SEE
Eye surgery is always a delicate and worrying process, but for sufferers of the condition known as strabismus, it can be even worse. A person with the strabismus condition, known more commonly as cross- or wall-eyed, cannot align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions.
Â“Doctors generally use books to decide how to proceed with strabismus surgery,Â” says Karoly Bosa from AustriaÂ’s Johannes Kepler University. Â“They often have to guess how to proceed and redo the surgery two or three times, which is painful for the patient. What we are doing helps to change that.Â”
Bosa and his colleagues have been working to adapt SEE++, an application for biomechanical simulations of the human eye, to a grid environment. The application, used in hospitals in the United States and Austria and to simulate eye surgery in educational settings, helps to plan procedures using simulations and real patient data from past cases. The simulations can remove the need for multiple operations and improve the experience for patients.
Grid Enabled SEE++ is an Austrian Grid project carried out by a collaboration of Johannes Kepler University in Linz and the Upper Austrian Research GmbH, which produces SEE++. The first version of Grid Enabled SEE++ was developed in three months in 2004.
Â“This first version worked 14 to 17 times faster than the original SEE++,Â” explains Bosa. Â“It used Globus technology, but was really a cluster solution. The doctors had to use trial and error for the simulations, manually inputting different parameters, in the first version. Our ultimate goal is a fully automated system.Â”
Since joining the EGEE project in the spring of 2006, the team at Johannes Kepler University has begun experimenting with the gLite middleware. Grid Enabled SEE++ makes use of some of gLiteÂ’s high level features, including interactive jobs, a feature that is not yet supported by the Globus Toolkit. The team also found that gLite was more compatible with the environment for the C programming language, although the Globus team plans to improve their C core in the future.
Despite being based on cutting-edge technology from both sides of the Atlantic, Grid Enabled SEE++ is not intended as a complex system.
Â“We have tried to completely hide the complexity of these underlying systems,Â” says Bosa. Â“If doctors want to use the extra functions we have added to SEE++ they simply enter a username and password and it works.Â”
-Owen Appleton, Contributing Editor