UH Moment

UH Moment: ‘Optometry’

Innovative technology at the University of Houston College of Optometry gives future eye professionals realistic experience examining and diagnosing eye diseases.


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A ‘ping’ sound informs the student that she’s located a diseased area of the eye.  She’s not working on a real eye. It’s a virtual eye at the College of Optometry’s Optometric Clinical Skills Simulation Lab. 

“This is incredibly innovative,” said the college’s Dr. Heather Anderson about the new EyeSi indirect system. “Now we can expose students to the simulators, which take on the patient demographics of whatever cases are programmed into the computer. They can examine elderly eyes, eyes with disease, and eyes with all different ethnicities.” 

The simulation system, created by VRMagic, is a comprehensive, interactive and 3D instructional program that aids in teaching everything from the basics of retinal examination to the diagnosis and management of complex patient scenarios.


“A lot of the diseases that we’re looking for have dimension to them, so if you look in a patient’s eye that is simulating a retinal detachment, you can see the depth of the retina floating as it’s detached. It’s very realistic,” she said. “We’ve had seasoned doctors examine the equipment saying this feels so natural.”

Students wear the virtual reality goggles built into standard optometric equipment and explore the eye. The virtual tool they use resembles the real thing. Each area of the eye the student inspects is recorded on the computer, allowing faculty to assess the progress of their examination and diagnostic skills. 

“The simulators are very realistic. They respond the way a patient would. They’ll blink and close their eyes if you remain in one position with the light for too long. If you spend too much time exposing the retina to the light, you’ll even see a tear come down the cheek of the virtual patient,” Anderson said.


The lab is the only one at an optometric program in the country, and the largest in the world. And UH College of Optometry students will have access to it 24/7.

“There’s really no limit to what we can use this for,” she said.

The College of Optometry simulation lab is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.  I’m Marisa Ramirez.