Future of eye exams could include mixed reality

A Miami ophthalmologist has created a headset that uses a combination of augmented and virtual reality to check your eyes for disease.

ST. Petersburg, Fla. — Your next eye exam could look a little different.

When you think of going to the eye doctor, these are the images that probably come to mind — a traditional eye exam with a chart to check whether or not you’re seeing 20/20. But the future of eye exams could be a combination of augmented and virtual reality.

Dr. Mohamed Abou Shousha, the founder of Heru, is an ophthalmologist in Miami. He’s an eye surgeon at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute which is considered the top eye institute in the US

Heru has created headset technology connected to the cloud to diagnose your vision.

“I am a vision scientist. I’ve been working on Heru for the last 10 years,” Shousha explained.

He says he heard from patients how hard it was to sit through traditional tests. A visual field test to look for early signs of diseases like glaucoma and peripheral vision loss would take about 20 minutes or so.

“This is voted one of the most hated tests in eye care,” Shousha said.

The Augmented Reality headset has six diagnostic exams including testing for Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration, even color blindness in less than 10 minutes. That saves patients valuable time and studies show it can give more reliable results.

“It’s like this very friendly cutting-edge technology,” Shousha said. “It guides you through the exam and makes you actually enjoy the time you’re taking the test.”

Dr. Greg Caldwell specializes in ocular disease. He practices in a town outside Pittsburgh and heard about the technology from colleagues.

He frequently lectures on technology, so he met with a team from Heru last year to learn more about it. He’s been using the headset in his practice.

Caldwell says he has been testing patients with first-generation technology to compare patients’ results over time, and for some, he’s using both the first generation and Heru to compare.

He says they’ve liked how it talks to them and has interaction and prefer it to the older technology.

“I truly think because it’s more of an interactive rather than stare at that white light ahead and just use your side vision for the next three to five, six minutes and your mind starts wondering. I really think the interactive brings increased accuracy,” Caldwell said.

Heru is portable and could go to pharmacies, grocery stores or even someone’s house. There’s also potential to use this in third-world countries where there are few options for eye care. It was launched last year, so you could see it in a doctor’s office near you soon.

“It is improving the care for the patients,” Shousha explained. “It is also improving how we practice vision care optometry or ophthalmology, saving staff time, money, and it is basically allowing vision care to be accessible at any time anywhere.”

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