In the 3rd episode of InSight Radio, Mrs. Marietjie Cilliers, founder of Gurumed, an international learning platform, discussed her motivations behind creating the platform and the eye care training it offers, as well as the key factors optometrists should consider when embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. Furthermore, she dedicated time to exploring the intersection of dyslexia with optometry and the role optometrists can play in supporting individuals with dyslexia.

Additionally, Mrs. Cilliers shared valuable insights on VisionWeaRx, a virtual reality system she co-developed for screening and diagnosing learning disabilities, highlighting its potential impact in the field of optometry. Lastly, she discussed her book titled “Visionstryt’s Practical Guide to Anterior Segment Conditions” and provided details about what readers can expect from it.

Revolutionizing Optometry and Empowering Learning with
Mrs. Marietjie Cilliers


Interview summarised by Ms. Sucheta Mitra


In this episode of Insight Radio, host Sucheta Mitra engages in a captivating discussion with Mrs. Marietjie Cilliers, an esteemed optometrist and visionary in the field of vision science. Mrs. Cilliers shares her inspiring journey, highlighting her accomplishments as a licensed practitioner, Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and founder of Gurumed—an innovative international learning platform for eye care training. She also introduces her ground-breaking virtual reality system, VisionWeaRx, designed to screen and diagnose learning disabilities, with a particular focus on dyslexia.

Mrs. Cilliers journey in the field of optometry serves as a testament to the power of resilience and the unexpected paths that lead to remarkable achievements. Initially aspiring to become an emergency care medical surgeon, she discovered her true passion in optometry and has since dedicated herself to continuous learning and growth. With nearly 15 years of experience and 12 years running her own practice, Mrs. Cilliers emphasizes the importance of never ceasing to evolve within the industry.

Drawing from her experience, Mrs. Cilliers provides invaluable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start a learning platform in the field of eye care. She highlights the five essential elements—passion, necessary skills or a supportive team, a clear vision of goals, determination, and a supportive network of people. With these key ingredients, individuals can embark on a successful venture in the eye care education space.

The conversation explores the positive changes brought about by online teaching compared to conventional teaching methods. Mrs. Marietjie underscores the increased accessibility to high-quality education that online platforms offer. While acknowledging the importance of relationship building and interaction in traditional teaching, she believes online platforms excel in teaching foundational principles and providing readily accessible information. She also expresses excitement about the role of technology, particularly virtual reality, and simulation devices, in bridging the gap between theory and practice. These innovations have the potential to enhance practical training, enabling students to gain valuable skills without physical presence in a clinic setting.

To optimize the practical approach in online teaching platforms, Mrs. Cilliers introduces the use of multi-view recorded videos and Zoom training sessions. These techniques provide students with different perspectives and real-time instruction, facilitating a comprehensive learning experience. She also emphasizes the significance of occasional live workshops, allowing students to validate and refine their skills through direct observation and interaction.

Mrs. Cilliers shares her strategies for captivating student attention and promoting interactive learning in the online teaching environment. By keeping videos short and incorporating interactive elements, such as tick boxes or action points, students remain engaged and enhance their overall learning experience.

The conversation takes a broader turn, as Mrs. Marietjie encourages aspiring optometrists to consider entrepreneurship and starting their own practices as safe and financially stable options. She stresses the importance of resource utilization, exploring new ideas, and remaining open to diverse pathways to success. Balancing work and personal life, Mrs. Cilliers advises finishing one project before moving on to another, ensuring designated time for both work and family.

The discussion also touches upon the critical role of optometrists in addressing dyslexia, serving as the first point of contact for parents seeking help for their children. Mrs. Cilliers emphasizes the significance of collaboration between optometrists, teachers, parents, and professionals involved in supporting individuals with learning differences. By understanding dyslexia, providing basic diagnoses, and guiding parents to additional resources, optometrists play a vital role in supporting dyslexic individuals.

Regarding visual stress and diagnosing dyslexia, Mrs. Cilliers highlights the importance of conducting a thorough visual assessment and addressing any binocular vision issues before proceeding with a dyslexia assessment. By prioritizing and improving basic visual functions, reading problems can be significantly alleviated. Additionally, she stresses the need to differentiate between visual stress, binocular vision issues, and dyslexia itself to ensure effective interventions.

Mrs. Marietjie introduces her revolutionary VisionWeaRx virtual reality system, specifically designed for screening and diagnosing learning disabilities, with a current focus on dyslexia. The goal is to reach and support children worldwide, including those in remote areas, by utilizing the hardware and software system. With a Wi-Fi connection, one can remotely screen and diagnose children with dyslexia, opening doors to early intervention and support.

Expanding the application of VisionWeaRx, Mrs. Marietjie reveals plans to include screening parameters for visual fields, colour vision, eye tracking, and other learning disabilities. The use of virtual reality enables accurate and controlled testing environments, providing comprehensive data to assess a child’s visual functions and overall needs. Ultimately, the long-term vision is to create a cost-effective and holistic screening tool that schools can employ, guiding students to appropriate interventions, be it optometric care, occupational therapy, or other necessary support.

Mrs. Cilliers concludes the interview by encouraging listeners to pursue their passions and take chances in life. By waking up each morning excited about one’s work and focusing on changing lives, individuals can experience a rewarding and fulfilling career. She shares her own journey of overcoming fears to write a book and advises others to embrace their aspirations. She emphasizes the significance of making a positive impact in any chosen field or endeavour.

In this thought-provoking episode, Mrs. Marietjie Cilliers exemplifies the power of passion, continuous learning, and innovation in revolutionizing optometry and empowering learners. Her dedication to making eye care education accessible and her commitment to addressing learning disabilities through cutting-edge technology underscore her role as a visionary in the field of vision science.

Tune in to this captivating episode of Insight Radio featuring Mrs. Marietjie Cilliers, as she shares her inspiring journey and ground-breaking contributions to the field of optometry. To listen to the full episode and gain valuable insights, visit our website, or tune in to leading podcast platforms such as Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more. Join us on this enlightening exploration of vision science and discover how Mrs. Marietjie is reshaping the landscape of eye care education. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be inspired and informed.