I’ve spent the last two years working to fix my strabismic eyes which has involved trying pretty much every program and method out there. Patching, vision therapy, surgery, and virtual reality have all been part of the process.
Optics Trainer is a company that is working hard to design software for use in vision therapy offices and at home. They have several different software products available for purchase to optometrists or ophthalmologists and phone and virtual reality apps.
This review is referring to the home and office virtual reality portions of Optics Trainer that I have been using for several months, but I have an exclusive coupon code for 5% off that works for both professionals and patients on all Optics Trainer products and subscriptions. Just use or mention the code, “melissa.”
What is Optics Trainer Virtual Reality?
Optics Trainer is a virtual reality software that is used under the care of a vision specialist to help treat vision issues such as strabismus, amblyopia, and convergence insufficiency to name a few.
The program/app has several games that each have settings that can be adjusted by the eye doctor to fit the needs of the individual patient. The games and settings are designed to improve “depth perception, eye hand coordination, multiple object tracking, reaction time, visual memory, color vision, and contrast sensitivity.”
For example, one game is called “Precision Pop.” It seems super simple, but don’t underestimate there is a huge balloon in the middle with an arrow pointing up, down, left or right. Other, smaller balloons start to appear and the object is to “pop” the balloons that have a matching arrow. Without any setting changes, it is great for improving reaction time and peripheral awareness.
The adjustable settings are what set Optics Trainer apart from other VR games though. Because each eye is seeing a different mini screen, each screen can be changed independently, allowing to completely tailor the experience for the user.
In the “Precision Pop” game, settings can be adjusted so that only one eye, usually the weaker one, can see the arrows or that the strong eye’s picture is more blurry.
The screen can be shifted to match an eye turn so that both eyes are looking at the same image. This makes it possible to fuse the images. As the brain learns to fuse, the screens can slowly be shifted back until both screens are matching again. This is a way to slowly teach the eyes to be straight and it works!
For my home therapy time, my optometrist changed the setting so that the screen shifted back and forth slightly while I was playing the games, giving my eyes and brain little exercises and converging or diverging more and more. This is like lifting weights for your eyes, getting them stronger and stronger!
This screenshot from the Optics Trainer website shows the different features that can be adjusted by the Optometrist or Ophthalmologist to fit individual needs.
I experienced so much success in using the home Optics Trainer Virtual Reality.
When I started, I had no depth perception and during my time using the program until I finished, I started being able to see in 3D in real life from time to time and learned to straighten. I’m not finished yet, but virtual reality has been a HUGE part of therapy that I simply could not have had success without!
It is definitely worth trying, just find a local Behavioral Optometrist that practices vision therapy and they can get you started!
How Do I Get Optics Trainer?
Optics Trainer has phone apps and a virtual reality app that can all be accessed for free without any sort of prescription. They are great games that can improve visual skills like reaction time, peripheral vision and tracking.
Just sign in to your favorite app store and search for “Optics Trainer” and you can start playing immediately.
If you are wanting to use the prescription version where your optometrist or ophthalmologist can adjust settings and tailor it for you, then the easiest thing to do is email Optics Trainer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They literally take care of everything. They will contact your eye doctor, get them set up and trained on the programming and then get you set up with your prescription and payments. It is so easy.
The cost of the home Virtual Reality Optics Trainer program is a steal at $50 a month!
To get a 5% discount on all of your Optics Trainer equipment or subscription, just use the coupon code: melissa. Using the code helps you save money and it helps me keep this website up and running so thank you in advance!
If you are an Optometrist or other professional wanting to use Optics Trainer in your office with patients, simply click here and you will be taken to their website where you can purchase both software and hardware for in-office use with patients. They have several packages available to choose from to fit a variety of needs.
What Equipment do I Need to get Started with Home VR?
In order to do home Virtual Reality, you will need a VR headset. Optics Trainer can work with several different models so I will just go through each one. They range in price from about $150-$1000 depending on storage and capabilities.
Occulus Go– This is the most basic headset and the one that I have used so far. It comes with the headset and one controller. It is built for a more stationary experience. While using it, you can turn your head and the scene changes, but you can’t walk forward and back and have that translate into the game (the other devices do have that feature). The controller is used to point and click, rather than actually move forward and back.
For vision therapy purposes, it works well, but there are fewer games available with this option because of the limits of only having one controller and not being able to move as freely within the game.
It is not as popular for “gamers” so it is so easy to find an inexpensive, used version on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Brand new on Amazon they are pretty expensive, currently ( link). On eBay there are great options for $100-$200.
Occulus Quest– This headset comes with two controllers and is designed for a more immersive experience. While the Occulus Go is built for staying stationary, the quest gives the player ultimate freedom. Instead of just having rotational movements, you can move up/down, left/right, and forward and back.
The Quest also comes with two remotes that can also move forward and back. This means games like boxing are possible. While the Optics Trainer app works great with the Go, I can see that there is so much more room for work with depth perception with the Quest.
Honestly, I had no idea there was such a huge difference until I started writing this post. The Occulus Go was the cheap option so I went with it. I have already found a Quest that I am giving myself as an early Christmas present because I think it is going to be WAY better than the Go, which was already amazing.
Update: The quest is AMAZING!!
Unfortunately, all that fancy technology costs money! There are a few different options when it comes to storage, 64 GB is plenty if you aren’t a gamer and are using it for VT mainly. The brand new Quest 2 is available on Amazon and ranges in price depending on the storage options you choose; 64 GB and 256 GB (Amazon Link). The original Quest is sold out, but there are a few for sale for astronomical prices ($588) or you can find used.
This one is fancy for sure. At close to $1000 it better be! As far as I’m concerned it looked very similar to the Quest with a few minor extras. I really can’t understand why someone would choose to spend twice as much for a very similar device. BUT, if you already own one, then you can just use it instead of purchasing a new system.
This option is very similar to the Quest, but it must be connected to a gaming PC computer in order to work. I am not a gamer so I just don’t understand why this would be a good option, the price is about $100-200 more than the the quest on amazon, so I guess if you’re looking to game and do VT, this option might work well.
My recommendation is to go with the Occulus Quest, it offers so much more than the Go and if you’re going to invest all the money into paying for vision therapy and subscriptions, an extra $100-200 is worth it!
What Makes Optics Trainer Amazing?
Optics Trainer is amazing in so many ways! Science has come so far and the fact that technology can be used to retrain the brain to use both eyes and treat strabismus, is mind blowing.
Here are my favorite aspects:
- Compared to other vision therapy virtual reality programs, Optics Trainer is very affordable.
- There are a variety of visual skills that are targeted and exercised using the different games. Each game offers a unique skill to be built. I didn’t need them all, but there is definitely something for everyone!
- The costumer service has been fantastic. I’ve had so many questions and I get replies back within a few hours generally.
- There are so many vision therapy exercises and tools that are only available in-office, and they are usually the ones that work the best. I LOVE that I can take one of the most effect vision therapy tools that I have used home with me and use it every day. I can easily take it on vacation as well.
- My Optometrist is able to track my progress and adjust the setting in person and remotely.
What Are the Limitations of Optics Trainer?
While Optics Trainer is fabulous, it isn’t perfect.
Because I was using the Occulus Go, the games that helped work on depth perception were more limited, I didn’t realize this until I was writing this article, unfortunately. There were only 3 games that my optometrist was having me use on a daily basis.
If I had been smart and gone with the Occulus Quest instead, I would have had access to an addition 3-4 games that would have worked my depth perception in new ways.
After using the program for 8 months, I was hoping for more new games, which I’ve learned are in the works so I was just a few months too early.
Other than that, Optics Trainer is a fantastic app that can be an integral part of treating strabismus and other vision dysfunctions. Try it out and let me know how it goes!