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    Using virtual reality in your practice

    As other professions adapt to VR, it’s time for optometry to do so as well


    Continuing education and training

    As optometry advances, virtual and augmented reality serve as important tools to teach students, residents, and ODs important diagnostic and therapeutic skills.

    SUNY College of Optometry and other optometry and ophthalmology programs utilize VR simulation laboratories as an integral part of their students’ education.1 While VR simulations will never fully replace wet labs and training on live subjects, it can be readily used to provide the majority of training for many techniques.

    Most of us have spent many hours sitting as patients for our classmates as they learn gonioscopy, lid eversion, and binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy (BIO). VR simulations save our test subjects’ valuable hours lost from their work or school schedules, and it reduces potential waste in the use of expensive specimens in wet labs.

    Research has shown that BIO training for novice ophthalmology residents can be significantly improved by the use of VR simulators.3

    Related: Hackathon series puts focus on digital eye care

    Advanced diagnostic testing

    The ability to use VR to track eye movements has existed for some time but has been utilized mostly in sports vision training for elite athletes.4 Applications for visual field testing have been developed by CREWT Medical Systems in Tokyo, Japan.

    CREWT’s head-mounted perimeter imo has been shown to obtain visual field sensitivity highly compatible to that obtained by the standard automated perimeter. Furthermore, CREWT’s binocular random single eye test provides an effective non-occlusion test condition without the examinee being aware of which eye is being tested.5

    Related: Upgrade your patients to new technology

    Patient education and experience

    Perhaps the entire concept of VR began with a desire to create a different human experience. Patient education and informed choice selection could be greatly enhanced by the use of virtual and augmented reality.

    Clinical applications of wavefront aberrometry may be optimized by its integration with virtual and augmented reality to simulate night driving conditions, vision with premium IOLs, and correction of higher order aberrations.6 Researchers continue to work with VR simulations for glaucoma and low vision patients to improve patient education and to enhance patient life experiences.7

    Thomas A. Wong, OD
    Dr. Wong is a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry and a member of the AOA Ethics committee and ASCO Ethics SIG. He is a past ...


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    Optometry Times A/V