Background/objectives: To compare skill acquisition of the new, cost-effective Arclight ophthalmoscope, with the traditional ophthalmoscope (TO), in medical students with no prior experience of ophthalmoscopy.
Subjects/methods: University of Dundee medical students took part in a cross-over trial. Students were divided into two groups and were alternately taught each device using a video tutorial. In period one, Group A was taught the TO first; Group B was taught the Arclight. They were then assessed using simulated objective, structured, clinical, examinations, examining four model heads with lettered fundal photographs of varying sizes of font. Groups crossed over following a 2-week washout period and were taught the second device and reassessed. A questionnaire was distributed to ascertain students' opinions and preferences.
Results: Forty medical students participated. Overall, 92.5% of students performed better with the Arclight, irrespective of cross-over trial period. The mean difference in score in period one of the cross-over trial was 16.77 (95% CI: 11.63-21.93), with students performing better with the Arclight (p < 0.0001). The mean difference in score in period two was 8.02 (95% CI: 4.52-11.52), with students performing better with the Arclight (p < 0.0001). In addition, performance with the TO improved by 52.9% following initial exposure to the Arclight. The Arclight was the preferred device by 82.5% of students, and 82.5% of students would choose this device for future practice.
Conclusion: Students performed better with and preferred the Arclight ophthalmoscope. The Arclight could be considered as a suitable alternative to the TO used for training medical students.