The Challenge

Medical students studying ophthalmology view the complex structures and functions of the human eye through two dimensional teaching aids and traditional teaching methods. Deliberate practice is necessary for mastery learning. Currently this takes place through physical simulators purpose built for specific procedures, however how do these students master the basic concepts on which these simulators are based? In order for the complex concepts of ophthalmology to be mastered, there needs to be innovation in the ways students learn. VR ophthalmic training applications like this can be used to master these concepts and facilitate online medical training.

2D Representations of 3D Problems

Complex subject matter, such as Visual Pathways, is poorly represented in standard teaching material and the time to master these subjects could be shortened.

Lack of "Hands-On" Learning and Online Medical Training

Students currently practice on real patients or dissect a cadaver. Both of these are suboptimal, as a cadaver does not function like a live subject and practicing on real patients can potentially compromise the safety of the patient. This limits the amount of practice students receive while in the classroom.

Limited Amount of Dysfunctions That Can Be Simulated

Currently, instructors are limited in how dysfunctions and diseases are demonstrated in classroom settings. These examples are often presented as case studies with limited hands on exploration.

The Solution – Online Medical Training

VR Ophthalmic Training

EyeSim, developed together with Dr. Anuradha Khanna from A Nu Reality, is a Virtual Reality ophthalmic training simulator application designed for educators to use in the classroom for learners to achieve mastery learning through deliberate practice. Currently available modules include ocular anatomy, pupil simulator, ocular motility simulator, and a visual pathway simulator. This solution also allows for online medical training to flourish outside the classroom.

Virtual Reality Improves Learning

Complex concepts can be accurately modeled to facilitate learning and lead to quicker understanding than older two-dimensional teaching aides. Complex subjects, like Visual Pathways, can be represented in a much more realistic and accurate fashion. This enables students to quickly understand what’s going on rather than requiring them to reconstruct a comparable model in their head from 2D representations.

Unlimited “Hands On” Practice

By bringing Virtual Reality to ophthalmology education, students can get hands on experience and gain valuable practice all without touching a patient or a cadaver. Structures and functions are realistically replicated within a virtual environment resulting in the ability to practice procedures and understand anatomical functions without repeated dissections or patient interactions.

Combine Dysfunctions for Improved Practice

Through Virtual Reality, instructors can select from any number of dysfunctions and have their students perform a diagnosis. More important, however, an instructor can combine several dysfunctions and create rare patient cases for their students to practice with.

EYESIM Advanced Pupil Simulator (APS)

EyeSim APS simulates how medication and lighting levels affect dysfunctions involving the pupil of the eye. The pupil is the hole located in the center of the iris of the eye that allows light to strike the retina. The application, designed for the HP Zvr, comes with a special adapter that turns the Zvr stylus into a replica of the handheld light used in eye exams. The intuitive Virtual Reality environment gives the student a sense of presence — as if they were in front of a real patient — which lends itself to better retention, better practice, and improved comfort with the diagnostic process.

The Results

Virtual Reality presents the perfect platform for advanced medical education. With VR, students can get hands on practice to help them master complex and difficult tasks. EyeSim is available on Mobile Platforms, Desktop, Ibench Mobile, and Icatcher.

“During my twenty years of experience in academic ophthalmology, I have transparencies to digital slides to PowerPoint. I see Virtual Research in many specialties has shown that simulation based medical education combined with deliberate practice enables mastery learning. EyeSim will provide my colleagues with a platform to build a simulation based ophthalmic educational curriculum on, and an opportunity for the learners to achieve mastery learning through deliberate practice in a safe environment.”

Anuradha Khanna MDAssociate Professor of Ophthalmology, Loyola University