Virtual Reality as a Teaching Tool for Patients with Diabetes

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Alberta


Imagine putting Virtual Reality (VR) goggles on and in moments you are immersed in a three-dimensional world. As you enter your vision begins to blur, dark spots appear in front of you. These effects, that demonstrate a variety of visual impairments, progress rapidly. What you are seeing is a simulation of the potential vision loss diabetes can cause.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment, and in North America is the fastest growing medical disorder. Some patients with Diabetes are not aware that their lifestyle choices can affect their vision. VR  can help patients visualize the possible progression of vision loss. Early detection and treatment is critical in conserving vision with the added benefit of saving the health care system money and specialist’s time.

A high resolution, realistic, VR experience would be an extremely valuable tool for education, awareness and prevention. Viewing the world through affordable Virtual Reality (VR) technology is as close to real world as can be achieved. VR puts people in controlled, safe environment that creates connections on an emotional level that is not possible using any other medium.

Health care professionals could also use the VR tool to educate patients and their care partners of the type and degree of impairment their patients are experiencing in an effort to help create empathy and understanding for their condition.

Roles and Responsibilities

This opportunity is looking for participants living with diabetes to view either traditional educational materials (videos, pamphlets) OR traditional materials and the STRATOS Virtual Reality Diabetic module. All participants will then be asked to complete a short questionnaire regarding their experience.

The current phase of the study will be conducted in person at our Edmonton and Calgary testing locations.

Time Commitment

Each participant will be scheduled for 1 session that will take about 20 minutes.


Participation is voluntary.

Rita Whitford
Saeed Toghi

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Land Acknowledgment

The Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit operates on and acknowledges the lands that are the traditional and ancestral territory of many peoples, presently subject to Treaties 6, 7, and 8. Namely: the Blackfoot Confederacy – Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika – the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Stoney Nakoda, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation and the Métis People of Alberta. This includes the Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta. We acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit who have lived in and cared for these lands for generations. We make this acknowledgment as a reaffirmation of our shared commitment towards reconciliation, and as part of AbSPORU’s mandate towards fostering health system transformation.