Virtual reality headsets have long been a way to slay virtual dragons and ride virtual roller coasters. Now, VR headset technology is helping eye doctors diagnose visual conditions like color blindness and macular degeneration.
If you need an eye exam, you might have the opportunity to benefit from this cutting-edge diagnostic technology.
VR headsets for ocular health care use eye-tracking technology that measures eye movements and records the data. A single device can simulate conditions that determine how well your eyes adapt from light to dark, distinguish between colors and detect blind spots and problems with your field of vision.
The headsets are easy to use and can feature several types of tests in one device. These tests save time thanks to their seamless technology and their ability to instantly simulate reality.
VR eye exams have several advantages over traditional tests because they lower the cost and duration of the tests. They’re also more engaging, especially for kids.
What You Should Know Before a VR Eye Exam
VR headset eye exams don’t require the patient to have prior technical knowledge. For some tests, you may simply wear the headset and report what you see. For others, you may need to operate a handheld controller that’s connected to the clinician’s tablet. VR eye exams are painless and take just a few minutes.
Types of VR Tests
VR headset [eye exams] are often used to assess:
Visual field tests can detect problems with peripheral vision or blind spots (scotoma) that can be an early sign of glaucoma. However, some patients consider traditional visual field tests to be long and tiresome and find testing with a VR headset a welcome alternative.
To assess visual field vision, the VR headset displays multiple tiny flashes of light of varying positions and brightness, and you respond when you see those flashes. The VR software determines if there are any areas of concern.
Color Vision Tests
VR headsets test for color blindness by assessing how well you tell the difference between various colors or shades of color. Some models offer the Ishihara test, which asks you to find and identify a red number in a green background, and/or the Farnsworth test, which diagnoses other types of color blindness, such as difficulty seeing yellow and blue.
Dark Adaption Testing
If your eyes have trouble adjusting from light to dark, you may benefit from a VR dark adaptation test. Difficulty adjusting to different lighting conditions is an early sign of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of permanent vision loss. Your eye doctor will shine lights with varying shades of brightness via your headset and ask you to press a button or respond when you see each one.
What Is a VR Test Like?
A VR eye exam is like any other kind of VR experience, except that its purpose is medical. There are no special preparations – your eyecare professional will give you all the instructions you need.
- The technician will place the VR headset over your eyes and fasten the adjustable straps
- Depending on the test, you may be given a console with buttons to press
- The test administrator will give you instructions and track your eye movements with special software. The results will be recorded on a tablet
- The eye-tracking data will be stored on the Cloud and is used for a diagnosis
What To Expect After a VR Eye Exam
Once the VR eye exam results are recorded using Cloud technology, your eye doctor will review them. Depending on the results, they may order additional tests or prescribe treatment.
If it takes your eyes time to get used to light or darkness, if you have difficulty distinguishing between colors or you notice blind spots in your vision, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Folman at Norwalk Vision Center in Norwalk to discuss whether an eye exam with a VR headset is right for you.