qOMR - Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity

qOMR system for measuring optomotor response

The optomotor response (OMR) is a reflex used to assess visual function. The PhenoSys qOMR (quantitative optomotor response) is a unique system that objectively measures the OMR with minimal experimenter effort. It employs a virtual stimulation cylinder that continuously aligns with the animal´s head position. Based on real-time head tracking, quantitative OMR measurements automatically provide visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. This is a PhenoSys Collaboration product brought to market together with its developer, Dr. Friedrich Kretschmer. New:qOMR-XT for rats

Check out this video to see how it is operated.

Hardware features

  • Calibrated 4 screen environment for presenting the virtual stimulation cylinder
  • Elevated central platform for placing the unrestrained animal
  • Top and bottom mirrors to create the illusion of infinite depth for optimized stimulation
  • IR-camera for automated head tracking independent of coat color
  • Adjustable IR-illumination
  • Anti-reflective (and protective) shields for the screens
  • Filter set for scotopic measurements

Software features

  • Video-based real-time tracking of head movement is used for both:
    1. Continuous automated position-adjustment of the virtual cylinder to the animal´s head position.
    2. Evaluation of head movement synchronous to the stimulation for a quantitative measure of the optomotor response. This analysis is fully automated.
  • Batch run option with multiple stimulation protocols.
  • Example for real-time tracking:
    qOMR video with visible stimulus

General application areas:

  • Characterization of vision
  • Screening for vision defects
  • Tracking of disease progression and recovery
  • Phenotyping of new breed lines
  • Quantification of treatment response


Characterisation or preclinical testing in relevant disease models, for example:

  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Restoration of vision


Investigation of various aspects of vision in mice and other rodents:

  • Visual acuity
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Spectral sensitivity
  • Temporal sensitivity
  • Simple, robust, and non-invasive test to examine vision in rodents
  • Fully automated measurement and analysis: no manual positioning of the stimulus, no specially trained experimenter required, time and cost effective, and unbiased
  • As a reflex, optomotor response measurements do not require animal training
  • Freely behaving animals, no surgery, no fixation
  • Flexible, user-friendly experimental design and data handling.

The PhenoSys qOMR is a PhenoSys Collaboration product. These products are brought to market together with the scientists who developed them.

qOMR is a joint product of Dr. Friedrich Kretschmer and PhenoSys.

qOMR is based on his publications:

  • Kretschmer F et al., PLOSone 2013 read more
  • Kretschmer F et al., J Neurosci Meth 2015 read more

PhenoSys qOMR main unit with partially opened lid.

Hardware Features

  • Calibrated 4 screen environment for presenting the virtual stimulation cylinder
  • Elevated central platform for placing the unrestrained animal
  • Top and bottom mirrors to create an illusion of infinite vertical depth
  • IR-camera with adjustable IR-illumination for automated head tracking.

Principle of the experiment with a mouse on top of the platform. The stimulus is normally invisible to the IR camera.

Video-based real-time tracking of head movement. The contour and pointing direction is determined by a fast algorithm using minimal assumptions for the geometry of the animal.

Software omrStudio: stimulus design specifying the presented pattern and the movement scheme

Software omrStudio: running experiment.

Actual measurement data (single frame) and recorded video with superimposed tracking results:
qOMR video with visible stimulus.
The visibility of the stimulus is enhanced compared to the normal qOMR for better clarity.

Software omrStudio: data analysis.

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Lees, R. N., Akbar, A. F., & Badea, T. C. (2020). Retinal Ganglion Cell defects cause decision shifts in visually evoked defense responses. Journal of Neurophysiology 124:5,1530-1549

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Thomson, B. R., Grannonico, M., Liu, F., Liu, M., Mendapara, P., Xu, Y., … & Quaggin, S. E. (2020). Angiopoietin-1 Knockout Mice as a Genetic Model of Open-Angle Glaucoma. Translational Vision Science & Technology, 9(4), 16-16.

Kretschmer, V., Patnaik, S. R., Kretschmer, F., Chawda, M. M., Hernandez-Hernandez, V., & May-Simera, H. L. (2019). Progressive characterization of visual phenotype in Bardet-Biedl syndrome mutant mice. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 60(4), 1132-1143.

Wang, X., Zhao, L., Zhang, J., Fariss, R. N., Ma, W., Kretschmer, F., … & Gan, W. B. (2016). Requirement for microglia for the maintenance of synaptic function and integrity in the mature retina. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(9), 2827-2842.

Kretschmer, F., Tariq, M., Chatila, W., Wu, B., & Badea, T. C. (2017). Comparison of optomotor and optokinetic reflexes in mice. Journal of neurophysiology, 118(1), 300-316.