Integration of simulation to education of optometry students

Dr Kwang Cham1, Ms Anthea Cochrane1

1Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia


Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscopy (BIO) is a core competency optometric skill. It is challenging for clinicians to provide meaningful feedback as the retina examined cannot be viewed simultaneously by both student and clinician. Hence, it is difficult for students to improve their BIO skills efficiently and effectively. We sought to assess the educational experience in Year 2 and 3 students using a BIO simulator as a teaching tool.


The BIO simulator integrates a realistic and interactive 3D experience, providing students with high-quality instant feedback as the examined retina is displayed live on the screen. Aspects of the technique such as efficiency and accuracy are also evaluated. Year 2 students are rostered in groups of three to use the simulator for six two-hour self-directed sessions for the year. In Year 3, they will again have access to the simulator for the same number of sessions, but this time on an individual basis.


104 students were surveyed (response rate = 46%) over two years. 90-100% of students strongly agreed or agreed that the technology: (i) is useful and highly valued; (ii) contributes to them being more confident, competent and proficient in performing BIO; and (iii) improves their stability, orientation and alignment when examining the retina on a real patient.

Significance of the findings to allied health:

Implementing a simulation-based environment has provided students with an interactive and immersive learning experience. It has improved students’ clinical examination and reasoning skills, allowing clinicians to concentrate on the translation of the technique to a real patient in the clinical setting in later years.