Virtual Reality Technology Allows Medical Students More Insight Into the Human Eye

The Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at Texas Christian University using OcuSim, a new ophthalmology virtual reality training simulator, to educate medical students.

By Prescotte Stokes III

Photo Credit: Courtesy of OcuSim | Burnett School of Medicine at TCU

FORT WORTH – Most medical students learn about the anatomy of the human eye through two-dimensional graphics.

Students at the Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at Texas Christian University now have access to what one faculty member calls the “wave of the future” for ophthalmology.

“Right before you is a gigantic eye in a 3-D sense,” said Kevin Chao, MS-3, after using the new technology.

“It was like the Magic School Bus going into the little eye, it was pretty cool,” he said referring to the popular children’s animated TV series about science.

The new virtual reality training simulator called OcuSim, which was purchased by the Burnett School of Medicine through the Alcon Endowment for Ophthalmology Excellence, allows medical students an immersive experience and more insight into the human eye. OcuSim uses an Oculus headset that is designed for medical students to achieve mastery learning through deliberate practice.

OcuSim is the wave of the future, according to Adam Jennings, D.O.,  Executive Director of Simulation, Innovation and Research at the Burnett School of Medicine at TCU.

“Instead of having a book or a PowerPoint you have that immersive experience,” Dr. Jennings said. “That material is embedded so much deeper in your brain you can recall it for the majority of your career.”

Anuradha Khanna, M.D., Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Ophthalmology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, along with other collaborators developed OcuSim a virtual reality ophthalmic training simulator designed for educators to use in a classroom. It puts the students in a virtual environment with three-dimensional illustrations of the human eye. Students can look inside and interact with the eye structure. Each illustration has an array of colors and labels the important structures based on the lesson.

Dr. Khanna introduced OcuSim to third-year medical students at Burnett School of Medicine during a recent LEAPs session.

Simulation provides an environment for students to apply their knowledge and experience; safely build confidence in clinical and technical skills; and make decisions without actual risk to patients. Virtual reality is one way to connect with medical students on a deeper level, Dr. Jennings added.

“A lot of times medical education is not that progressive and we’re at the cutting-edge of that,” Dr. Jennings said. “You see the anatomy come to life and it cements that in your brain and makes that much more of an impact.”