Learning how to use a fundoscope well is one of the more challenging aspects of life as a junior doctor.

In order to help develop this essential skill, Alcon, a Novartis company have developed the Virtual Opthalmoscope.

This free universal app features a library of more than 50 clinical cases with high-quality, zoomable images and commentary from a leading consultant ophthalmologist.

Opening the app presents the user with two main options to use the virtual opthalmoscope; one can either browse the clinical cases within the app using the internal viewer or alternatively, you can test your knowledge using the built in quiz function.

Selecting a case is straightforward and the 50 cases are separated into sections such as Diabetes, Infection etc.

The search function is useful to help find a relevant case whilst the ability to browse by thumbnail is certainly welcomed.

The actual interface is quite clever with options to display an aperture or alternatively view the whole image. Using your finger, you can drag the pupil around to ‘examine’ different parts of the eye.

Using pinch gestures, it is possible to alter the dilation of the pupil in order to change the view. Furthermore, you can adjust the brightness to try bring additional details to light. The overall quality of the images is high and there was no pixelation even when viewed on the iPad’s large screen.

It is also possible to review the clinical notes associated with each case, although I did find these were limited at best. While they were great for distinguishing a diagnosis, I would certainly still recommend a textbook for more advanced clinical detail.

One feature that I hadn’t seen in a medical app before was the ability for users to submit their own cases using the app. According to the app,

“Cases will be considered on their educational value and clinical interest. Acceptable cases include unusual presentations, results of succesful (or otherwise) treatments, rare or unusual diseases and more.”

I like this attitude towards crowdsourcing education and think that it is one of the many potential features which makes mobile technology unique.


  • Free


  • Lots of intuitive controls such as aperture, brightness and more
  • Good range and selection of cases
  • Useful to have search function
  • Submit function!


  • Would be fantastic to have more clinical detail associated with each case


  • The Virtual Opthalmoscope is a great example of a powerful free learning resource. The good range of cases combined with a simple but effective user interface means this app is highly recommended for every doctor/student who wants to brush up on their fundoscopy skills.

iTunes Link