Virtual Reality Environments for Clinical Measurements of Visual Performance in Glaucoma Patients

Abstract/Technology Overview

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, but since there are no obvious symptoms at the initial stage of the disease, patients' eyesight is often irreversibly damaged when they become aware. There is a need for effective control of glaucoma eye damage to provide early detection and timely treatment. The company set out to tackle the problems of a lack of long-term monitoring of patients, low public awareness and screening rate of the disease.

The team has designed and developed virtual reality environments using Unity (Unity Technologies, CA) and HTC Vive (HTC Corporation, Taiwan) simulating common daily tasks including:

(1) Navigating through a busy street

(2) Walking down a flight of stairs

(3) Locating an object of interest on a supermarket shelf

These VR environments are simulated because patients with detectable visual field loss often have difficulties in completing such tasks. The software allows quantification of visual performance and affords objective approach to detect and monitor visual disability. There are no commercially available tools for clinical measurement of visual performance related to daily activities. Hence, the market for commercialization is enormous. The Virtual Reality (VR) platform has the potential to revolutionize clinical examination of visual performance, providing a new paradigm to measure and monitor visual disability in a variety of ocular disorders.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

The team developed software running in a stereoscopic head-mounted goggle that can generate Virtual Reality (VR) environments for simulation of daily activities. VR along with head-tracking functions will provide suitable simulated stimulus environments that can be easily delivered in a confined space. Data obtained from the VR environments to detect visual disability in the VR experience influencing the performance score will be analyzed. For example, the impact of the size, color, contrast, and location of the virtual objects in the simulated environment on the magnitude and frequency of head movements recorded from the head-tracking device will be analyzed. The number and configuration of the virtual objects are then refined to maximize the detection of visual disability. Diagnostic performance of the revised VR environments can be examined in groups of normal subjects and glaucoma patients.

Potential Applications

The innovation will empower clinicians to devise an appropriate treatment, support and visual aids to improve patients’ quality of vision and quality of life. Unlike many clinical instruments for testing of vision, the Virtual Reality (VR) platform is a portable home monitoring of vision and visual performance and is therefore easy to use and feasible. Some chronic eye diseases like glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness, are characterized by progressive worsening and constriction of the visual field with relatively well preserved central vision until the end stages. The VR platform for home monitoring of visual performance not only will facilitate early detection of disease progression but will enhance vision health throughout all life stages and will increase the quality of life for the visually impaired.

Technology Owner

Cathy Wong


The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Technology Category
  • Diagnostics
  • Telehealth, Medical Software & Imaging
  • Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality & Computer-Simulated Environments
Technology Status
  • Available for Licensing
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 5

Glaucoma, Virtual Reality, eyesight, visual performance, vision, chronic eye diseases, blindness