High-tech animation worthwhile tool for patient education

June 1, 2006

Seeing may be believing, but in the world of eye care,ophthalmologists have for years relied on charts andthree-dimensional (3-D) models in an attempt to explain conceptsthat are rather hard for patients to visualize.

Seeing may be believing, but in the world of eye care, ophthalmologists have for years relied on charts and three-dimensional (3-D) models in an attempt to explain concepts that are rather hard for patients to visualize.

The truth is, patients have been forced to rely only on their doctor's best explanation while making critical decisions about their eye care. Because of a variety of outside factors, that explanation might be better some days than others.

The brainchild of optometrist Steven Sopher, OD, and his computer-techie sons, the company has grown to offer hundreds of animated video segments-most about 1 minute long-that have been translated into seven languages and are used in more than 5,000 offices around the world. The animation is created by a staff of in-house animators and software gurus, and their work is reviewed by a board of ophthalmologists and optometrists for accuracy.

Jeffrey W. Peres, the company's president and chief executive officer, said the software-powered by a personal computer-is easily adapted for use in waiting rooms, examination rooms, optical dispensaries, and other settings within a practice. Like programming an iPod, individual "playlists" may be created with applicable segments for specific case types, or longer segments may be connected to run on a continuous loop in a general waiting room, he said.

"It's a wonderful selling tool for doctors who don't typically think of themselves as business people," Peres said.

A high-tech presentation

For Michael L. Gilbert, MD, the software offers a high-tech presentation that complemented the character of his private practice in Bellevue, WA. Dr. Gilbert, who formerly was the medical editor of Eyecare Technology magazine, had created his own version of the software animations to increase patient education, but switched to Eyemaginations because he thought it was so well done.

"I have never seen any educational software product as well-animated or as well-scripted as their product," said Dr. Gilbert, who has had Eyemaginations about 5 years. "It no longer made sense for me to make my own."