My last few posts have been about artificial intelligence (AI) and general health care. But how will it affect your eye health and vision?
High Definition Vision
Years ago I tried a new lens by a company called Ophthonix. Their iZon lens was the first of its kind. My eyes were scanned, the data was sent to a lab, and my prescription was made with an interesting twist. A thin layer of gel was sandwiched between two lenses, and a laser “programmed” the gel according to my eye’s measurements. The result was the world’s first true high definition lens.
Ophthonix pioneered high definition lenses and raised the bar for the entire industry. Now, almost every lens company offers some type of high definition lens.
I’m sad to say Ophthonix no longer exists. The iZon lens is a distant memory. In spite of advances in lens technology, my iZon lenses are still some of the clearest I own.
AI starts with a massive collection of data. That’s where the “intelligence” comes from. And that data still must be entered into those databases. I don’t know of any eye care AI platform that will collect its own data, yet. But I’m sure that’s in the works too.
We already use AI in eye care, but we’re only just beginning. Here are four ways your eye doctor might use AI to improve your eye health and vision:
- Normative databases. It’s a big phrase, but it just means a collection of normal test results. Doctors can compare your test results to normal results. For example, let’s say your eye doctor sees an irregular nerve. She can measure the nerve with a laser scanner. Even better, the scanner is programmed to highlight any abnormal measurements. This technology already exists and we use it every day at LaFollette Eye Clinic. This technology has also been added to other specialized testing we use.
- Augmented reality. Remember Google Glass? We haven’t heard much about that lately. But Google is still working on the next phase. They want us to see and process information about people and things around us. And they’re not alone. PogoTec is working on their own version. And if glasses aren’t your thing? Samsung owns the patent for a contact lens that will take photos and project images directly into the user’s eyes.
- Personal health care. Contact lenses to monitor eye pressure or blood sugar levels are in the works. This technology collects health data away from the doctor’s office. Normative databases can help your eye doctor analyze this data too. I predict this technology will eventually alert patients and doctors the instant measurements are abnormal.
- Photographic AI. Last week, I mentioned a dermatology app that maps your skin using your smart phone’s camera. Suspicious blemishes are highlighted for you and your dermatologist. This concept can be applied to eye care. Software already exists that will scan retinal photographs. It can detect diabetic retinopathy and determine whether a retinal specialist is needed. This technology will eventually be used for other eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Eye doctors will use it first, but will this technology be found in hospitals, health care kiosks, or even your own home?
It’s an exciting time to be involved in eye care. Artificial intelligence is in its early stages. But I expect it to improve your vision, eye health, and visual lifestyle.
Question: If you could apply AI to your health, what would you do first? Please tell me in the comments below.
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