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Using virtual reality to spot glaucoma
Dr. Martin Steinbach

​​​​​​​​​Using the Oculus Rift, a popular VR headset, Dr. Martin Steinbach’s research team is trying to discover more about peripheral vision.​

A Krembil researcher is deploying digital VR to find early signs of disease​

To ​safeguard our vision, eye experts usually recommend putting aside virtual reality (VR) devices and looking away from computer screens, but Dr. Martin Steinbach has his patients doing just the opposite.

Dr. Steinbach’s vision tests started with the use of a large projector screen measuring about two square metres – the size of a TV monitor in an upscale sports bar. The viewing sensation, he says, would be similar to watching an IMAX movie.

At the Krembil Research Institute, his research team (Dr. Esther Gonzalez, Dr. Lumi Tarita-Nistor and students Taylor Brin, Saba Samet and Henry Liu) now has test participants wearing the Oculus Rift, a popular VR headset that immerses its users in their own personal movie. The Rift is not being used for entertainment here, though. The purpose is to find new ways to detect glaucoma in its early stages by measuring "vection" – the sensation viewers experience when a large part of their field of vision is moving and they feel like they too are moving, even though they are not. In patients with mild glaucoma, vection is impaired or absent.