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Tuesday, October 02, 2018

University of Waterloo to have first virtual reality optometry lab in Canada

A new virtual reality (VR) training lab at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, will help Canada’s next generation of optometrists learn how to diagnose vision problems and eye diseases more quickly and accurately.

The new lab, funded through an $800,000 investment by national eye care provider FYidoctors, will accelerate the development of essential clinical skills for optometrists. The authentic experience simulates a patient’s eye and provides students with an opportunity to use virtual reality to practice on many cases that range from wellness through to diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetes. 

At a total cost of $1.5 million, the FYidoctors Simulation Lab is the first of its kind in Canada and will ensure the School remains at the forefront in optometric education in North America.

“With the simulators, optometry students will now take the time they need to practice and master skills as they progress through increasingly complex training modules,” said Stanley Woo, Director of the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo. “During valuable lab time, the foundational skills will be better established enabling our faculty to take the students more efficiently from good to great.” 

The simulation equipment will supplement real-life training, which is limited. It will also provide hundreds of real patient cases to practice binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy (BIO), which will help students to recognize, identify and diagnose eye and systemic disease more quickly and confidently. FYidoctors leadership support represents the most significant sponsorship every received by the Schools optometry program.

Dr. Al Ulsifer, CEO and Chairman of FYidoctors and Waterloo alumnus, said that this investment isn’t just an investment in the University, but an investment in the future generation of optometrists.

“When we formed FYidoctors 10 years ago, we created it with a vision to enhance the lives of people, in our communities, and across the world. Investing in students, and in their clinical education, will ultimately enhance patient care in the communities in which we serve, and keep Canada at the forefront of optometry and vision science,” said Ulsifer. “Simulation technology is the future of healthcare learning and is directly aligned with FYidoctors spirit of harnessing innovation to help our patients lead more fulfilling lives.” 

Ulsifer led the formation of FYidoctors in 2008 with a dynamic group of University of Waterloo optometry grads who had the vision to create an optometrist-led chain of eye-care clinics. Today, FYidoctors is the country’s largest doctor-owned eyecare provider, and invest heavily in technology to ensure its clinics deliver exceptional care to their patients. 

The University of Waterloo is one of two optometry schools in Canada, making the University of Waterloo a national resource for training vision care professionals and vision science researchers. 
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