In Part 1 of our metaverse series, we explained what the metaverse is and how it’s starting to shape the way businesses interact with their customers. In Part 2, we cover the exciting advancements the metaverse brings to the field of eye care.
A New Look for Eye Care
In our last article, we discussed how the metaverse has helped accelerate the vCommerce craze
Specifically in the retail industry (if you haven’t had the chance to read it, make sure to get caught up here) Doctors of Eye Care and the Metaverse of Madness Part 1. Rather than merely being used as a tool, vCommerce has created new avenues for businesses and new expectations for customers.
While the retail industry is already speedily integrating these new technologies into their sales strategies, the eye care industry has started adopting them for its purposes. From apps that crank optical sales through the roof using augmented reality, to new vision therapy treatments using virtual reality, the metaverse is already driving practices forward.
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A New Optical Sales Model
Augmented reality isn’t new.
In fact, you may have heard of Pokemon GO, the augmented reality mobile phone game that took the world by storm back in 2016. Soon after people started traveling to parks and subway stations to catch virtual Pocket Monsters, businesses started taking advantage of this new melding of real and unreal to create unique product selling experiences.
Fast forward to 2022, and optical vendors have already incorporated augmented reality into the eyeglass buying experience. A great example of this is Warby Parker’s Try-On App. The main claim of the app is convenience. Now patients can shop for glasses online and see how the frames look on them before they buy without ever having to leave the comfort of their home.
Unsurprisingly, the use of augmented reality has been very effective in helping Warby Parker stand out as an optical eCommerce giant. The company was recently valued at over $3 billion, and their Try-On app has been rated one of the top downloads on the Apple store with a 4.9 aggregate review rating and hundreds of thousands of active users.
In other words, the use of augmented reality in optical sales is fast becoming a necessity that many patients consider when weighing who to buy their glasses from. As the metaverse continues to expand, buyers will continue to seek out opportunities to experience the perks of a retail setting in the form of online interactions.
VR-ision Care: The Treatment Applications of Virtual Reality
Even as early as 2015, eye care professionals were discussing the exciting possibilities VR opened up for diagnosing and treating patients. Now the drive to create technologies to interact with the metaverse has made it all achievable.
For starters, virtual reality solves a persistent problem all eye care treatments within practice settings: The fact that they take place within the practice environment. Conventional treatments just can’t simulate most real-world situations where a patient’s eye problems are most noticeable.
Let’s say you’re treating a glaucoma patient for balance problems related to vection, or the visual sensation of motion. Short of packing them into your car and heading out for a drive, it’s hard to get a real sense of how bad the problem is. But with virtual reality, you can simulate any scenario you can imagine. Best of all, you can accurately measure the problem right in the office, based on how the patient performs.
Virtual reality in eye care isn’t limited to diagnosing vision impairment. It can also be used to create new treatment regimens. For example, virtual reality goggles can be used to treat patients with binocular vision disorders by slowly adjusting what they see in a virtual world to retrain their eyes into aligning properly.
Speaking of virtual worlds, VR has the potential to revolutionize pediatric eye care. Many of the procedures used to diagnose and treat eye disorders in children can seem scary or intimidating. But with VR, even neuro-optometric rehabilitation can be as inviting as strapping on a pair of goggles and immersing yourself in a fun and colorful landscape.
Training the Eye Care Professionals of Tomorrow
So far we’ve only discussed the major benefits the metaverse brings to the patient experience. However, this new intersection of technology and reality is also changing the way doctors learn to treat the eye problems of the future.
Even more promising is the use of virtual reality to practice difficult eye procedures before performing them on patients. Now eye care professionals can do trial runs to test out new procedures or visualize a way to solve difficult eye care problems, leading to safer, more efficient eye care and more highly skilled doctors.
Using virtual reality, students enrolled in optometric and ophthalmologic colleges around the world can get hands-on experience in diagnosing and treating eye problems in a faster, safer and more detailed environment than previously possible outside of an anatomy lab. Virtual training opportunities don’t stop after donning their cap and gown either. Imagine a world of continuing education where you can watch a colleague describe and perform a new method for treating keratoconus, and then you can perform the same procedure under their direction, all from the confines of your living room.
Bottom line: The metaverse is rapidly bringing to bear technologies that are vastly improving the field of eye care. It makes the real world less scary and more engaging for patients, while helping doctors step beyond their current capabilities to achieve more. Additionally, patients are increasingly looking to eye care solutions that avoid coming into the office, even as eye care professionals seek to bring them back in. These new virtual technologies are a way to bridge the gap and retain patients in a world where healthcare at a distance is fast becoming the standard. And with the increased focus on the metaverse brought on by companies like Facebook, there’s no doubt that virtual technologies will only continue to improve in the coming years. Between new ways to reach patients, develop new treatments and train the next generation of doctors, the future of eye care looks bright indeed.