VR will have very useful applications in many fields. One of those fields is ophthalmology.
As the world advances, there is always the idea that something new is about to change the very way we live. A few years ago, tech CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the metaverse, a virtual reality (VR) world in which we could work, play, socialize, and do other activities without leaving our couches. Today, having spent over $36 billion and hired 10,000 engineers to build this virtual world, Zuckerberg was taunted by critics1 for wasting resources and being behind on the latest world-rocking technology, artificial intelligence (AI). AI, so we are being told, is the new frontier.
As is usually the case, the reality of incorporating new technology into our lives will lie somewhere between the incredible hype offered by those advocating for it and the ridicule of the naysayers. So, although I don’t expect my life to be dramatically changed anytime soon by VR and have begun to see AI more often in daily life, I very much do anticipate that VR will have very useful applications in many fields. One of those fields is ophthalmology.
Want to know whether a resident is reasonably prepared to perform their inaugural phacoemulsification on a patient? I think both the attending surgeon and the resident would derive some confidence from knowing that the resident has mastered the basic steps of the procedure on a virtual training platform. How about testing whether a patient with limited vision is safe to get behind the wheel of a car at night without risking a fiery crash? How about assessing the ability of a patient to safely maneuver around obstacles in their path without putting them at risk of injury? The article by Magrath and coworkers illustrates the use of such testing as an outcome measure in patients with retinal degenerations. I think we’ll see more use of this technology in ophthalmology clinical trials in the coming years.