University of Waterloo gets Canada’s first VR optometry training lab

The first-of-its-kind lab will cost $1.5 million

Samsung Gear VR on head

The University of Waterloo is getting a new virtual reality optometry training lab.

As one of two optometry schools in Canada, this is a considerable advancement for Waterloo. It will help train the next generation of optometrists. With this VR lab, students can learn to diagnose vision problems and eye disease more quickly and accurately than before.

FYidoctors, an optometrist-led chain of eye-care clinics formed in 2008 by a group of Waterloo optometry grads, invested $800,000 in the new lab. The investment will help accelerate the development of optometry skills.

The VR experience is highly authentic. It simulates a patient’s eye and allows students to practice with various cases, such as wellness checkups to disease examination.

“With the simulators, optometry students will now take the time they need to practice and master skills as they progress through increasingly complex training modules,” said Stanley Woo, director of the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo.

“Simulation technology is the future of healthcare learning and is directly aligned with FYidoctors spirit of harnessing innovation to help our patients lead more fulfilling lives,” said Dr. Al Ulsifer, CEO and chairman of FYidoctors.

The simulation equipment in the VR lab will help supplement limited real-life training. Additionally, it will allow students to practice binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy (BIO) on hundreds of real-life patient cases. BIO is a method of viewing the back of a patient’s eye.

The ability to practice BIO will help students recognize, identify and diagnose eye and systemic disease faster and with greater confidence.

In total, the lab will cost $1.5 million. It will also be the first of it’s kind in Canada.

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