Virtual Reality in Ophthalmology

Authors: F. Koch, M. J. Koss, P. Singh, H. Naser.

Publication: Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 2009; 226(8): 672-676; DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1109383.


Background At the Medical Faculty of the University of Ulm, the learning objectives of ophthalmology are taught to students in a one-week block course in the fourth year of study. According to the National Competency-based Learning Objective Catalogue Medicine (NKLM), one of these learning objectives is the clinical examination of the eye, including the eye fundus examination. In order to best train this expertise as defined in the NKLM, a novel, augmented reality-based training simulator (Eyesi Indirect, VRmagic Holding AG, Mannheim, Germany) was integrated into the teaching at the University Eye Hospital Ulm. During the block week, two key questions were examined: Does the one week block lesson increase interest in ophthalmology? How do students assess the use of an innovative e-learning technology compared to three other classical teaching methods for learning ophthalmoscopy?

Material/Methods As part of the student teaching (block weeks July and October 2016), 292 students were questioned by questionnaire anonymously and on a voluntary basis regarding their assessment of the block week and the training simulator at the beginning and end of the one week event. The ophthalmoscopies were classically practiced on the ophthalmoscope trainer, head model and on fellow students and then performed on the new training simulator.

Results Overall, there was little interest among the students in ophthalmology. However, the block week helped to increase interest (p < 0.001). The assessments of attractiveness before and after the block week of ophthalmology as a later professional goal and as an optional subject in the practical year were also significantly increased (p < 0.001 or p = 0.031). With regard to the use of e-learning technologies, it was shown that the handling of the simulator for learning ophthalmoscopy was rated more attractive by the students than the classical technology-based teaching methods (all p < 0.01). The joy of learning could only be further increased by practicing on a fellow student (p = 0.051).

Conclusion The results of the present study show a positive impact of the block week on the attractiveness assessment of the specialty by the participating students. Innovative e-learning methods can increase the enjoyment of learning. However, the training simulator cannot provide a complete replacement of the training on a real person.