New Training Simulator for Retinal Examination

Augmented Reality Technology for Medical Training   San Francisco/Mannheim. At this year’s American Academy of Ophthalmology in San Francisco, California from 24-27 October, the German-based company VRmagic will present for the first time an augmented reality simulator that allows training of binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy as well as diagnosis of retinal diseases.

Benefits of the training system in comparison with conventional teaching methods are the availability of a wide range of clinically relevant cases as well as detailed evaluation of both procedural and diagnostic skills. The ophthalmoscope simulator has been developed by VRmagic in cooperation with the University Eye Clinic in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. The system is currently being used and evaluated at the eye clinic in Frankfurt.

Target Groups

All students of medicine have to learn how to examine the fundus. Handling of the ophthalmoscope and correct positioning of the magnifying lens require a good deal of practice. Frequently, the pupil of the examined person is artificially dilated with drops. As a result, the eyes will be uncomfortably sensitive to light for hours afterwards. This new simulator system now allows ophthalmoscopic training without any stress on patients. The technology is designed to permit medical training of ophthalmologists and optometrists as well as general practitioners, internists, diabetologists, gynaecologists, neurologists and orthopedic surgeons. It is also possible for educators to have cases added to the database as required.

Augmented reality technology enables realistic training of retinal examinations

The simulator consists of a head-mounted display, a patient model head as well as a freely movable diagnostic lens. This setup is operated exactly like a real ophthalmoscope. A PC with touch screen is used for system control. The integrated augmented reality technology provides a realistic experience of retinal examinations. Looking through the data eyeglasses, the user can see the real scene with his hand and the diagnostic lens. Instead of the model head, he can see a computer-generated patient head as well as the visible section of the eye interior, which is rendered onto the hand-held lens. The three-dimensional image of the eye interior is calculated in real time, so that the difference between the real and virtual image levels is hardly perceptible for the user.

As with a real ophthalmoscope, the diagnostic lens and light source of the Eyesi ophthalmoscope have to be aligned properly in front of the model eye in order to render fundus im­ages. Indirect ophthalmoscope settings such as the stereo base of the ophthalmoscope, diopter number of the lens and color filter selection or light intensity can be modified on the user interface.

Objective evaluation of procedural and diagnostic skills

Available pathologies range from macular degeneration and diabetes through to toxoplasmosis and central vein occlusion. Case descriptions and the clinical records of the virtual patient are provided by the training system. A fundus scheme editor and a diagnosis specifica­tion tool allow trainees to describe diagnostic findings in detail. The diagnosis as well as procedural skills of the trainee are evaluated by the system for imme­diate feedback. Various parameters of the examination procedure, such as the retinal area visible in the magnifier, examination time or possible light toxicity, are evaluated.


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