Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in developed countries and so it is very important that future ophthalmologists understand it well. The University of Alberta Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has developed a virtual environment, Virtual Retina: Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy, to augment the education residents receive about diabetic retinopathy.
Using cutting edge technology and specially developed software, Virtual Retina allows residents to digitally stereoview patients in a case-based format and encourages the development of a diagnostic framework. Also, the cases have an interactive pathology-identification component, and incorporate self-testing and virtual surgical treatment. Virtual Retina is supported by detailed theoretical papers and interactive illustrated tutorials. Learners acquire a thorough understanding that would otherwise take an extended period of time to achieve through traditional clinical observation.