5 Reasons You Can’t Miss This Once in a Lifetime Visual Event

The Great American Eclipse Is Coming

Most people don’t plan their days off nearly a year in advance.  But you don’t want to miss the total solar eclipse next August.


Mind Blown

There were a few moments in my childhood when my world got a lot bigger.

Once I was in a car with my parents when they told me to look at a storm a few miles away.  I was still young enough to believe that if it was raining, everyone in the world was getting wet.  I saw a massive cloud in the distance drenching the town below, but it was a clear, sunny day for me.  I could hardly process it.

Another time I was outside with my parents at night.  My mother said, “Look closely at the moon.  It’s always round, we just can’t see all of it sometimes.”  Picture books told me the moon was a crescent, but for the first time, I saw the part of the moon in shadow.  Again, I struggled to process this new information.

These two episodes early in my life were turning points that expanded my view of the world (and universe) around me.

The Great American Eclipse

Next year, you can experience a mind-expanding event like those I had when I was a child.  The Great American Eclipse, as it has been dubbed, will occur on Monday, August 21st.  It will start on the West Coast near Salem, Oregon, and will continue Southeast across the U.S. until it passes over Charleston, South Carolina.  For a lot more information, check out the links at the end of this post.

Whether or not you have seen a total solar eclipse, here are five reasons you need to be outside that day:

  • It’s rare.  This could be a once-in-a-lifetime event.  According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com, the U.S. had total eclipses in 1991 and 1979.  But the last total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. from the Atlantic to the Pacific was in1918.
  • It’s easy.  GreatAmericanEclipse.com also states the entire population of the 48 contiguous states is within a day’s drive of the eclipse’s path.
  • It’s total.  While I’ve never seen a total solar eclipse, I have seen a partial one.  It’s not the same – not even close, when I compare my experience with people who have seen a total one.
  • It’s inspiring.  Nothing captures our imaginations quite like space.  It’s immense and mysterious.  It inspires awe (because it’s so big) and humility (because it makes our world seem so small).
  • It’s transcendent.  People who have seen a total solar eclipse struggle to explain it.  They know it’s special but they can’t describe it.  Like holding a newborn baby or seeing the Grand Canyon, you can read about it but you don’t really know what it’s like unless you’re there.  And you can’t see this eclipse unless you plan to take that day off.  Do it now!

One important thing to remember: Looking directly at the sun is extremely damaging to your eyes.  Just don’t do it.  There are several tricks you can use to see the total solar eclipse without harming your eyes.  In future posts, I’ll highlight some of the best ways you can see the eclipse safely.

If you’re living the visual lifestyle, one thing you do is celebrate vision.  What better way than to see something you never have?  Make plans today to see next year’s total solar eclipse.

Question: Have you ever seen a solar or lunar eclipse?  Please tell me about it in the comments below.


You may also like:


3 Reasons Space Travel Will Change How You See

The Hubble Space Telescope Is Celebrating Its Silver Anniversary

You Can’t Enjoy the Beauty of Life When You Can’t See It


For more information on The Great American Eclipse, check out these links:




4 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Change How You See

AI Already Enhances Eye Care and Will Only Get Better

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.

Enter AI

Just like Ophthonix did for high definition lenses, companies are bringing AI to eye care.  You can read my last two posts (here, and here) to learn a little about AI in health care.

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.


You may also like:

4 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Change How You See Your Doctor

6 Problems When You Mix Artificial Intelligence and Health Care

4 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Change How You See Your Doctor

Doctors and Computers Are Both Getting Smarter

Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing at an astounding rate.  How will we use it for health care, and what does that mean for you as a patient?


A Prideful Doc

Have you ever met a doctor with a superiority complex?  That was me early in my career.  But I didn’t feel superior to my patients.  I felt superior to technology.

When I was a student, retinal imaging was new.  Back then, I believed photographs were secondary.  They were for recording a diagnosis, not for helping me make it.

A few years later, I got a digital retinal camera for my practice.  Soon I began to see things on the retinal images that I hadn’t seen on my own.

Talk about humbling!  I had to admit the retinal photo made my examination better.  Numerous studies now show imaging enhances retinal problems that might otherwise go undetected.

Make Way for AI

I think that’s what we’re going to discover as AI becomes more common in health care.  But doctors already seem to be taking “sides.”

Some embrace AI, thinking it will teach us a better way.  They believe doctors and AI can work together for the good of patients.

Others believe AI is a danger to patients, thinking there may be risks we’re not considering yet.  These doctors are also concerned about patient care.

There are very smart physicians on both sides of that argument, and each has good reasons to believe what they do.

But progress happens.  A digital retinal camera was only the beginning.  LaFollette Eye Clinic now has retinal laser scanning and nerve conduction testing (think EKG for the eyes).  It was the first clinic in the Southeast U.S. to offer patients multispectral imaging with the Annidis Retinal Health Analyzer.  As technology improves, we offer it to our patients.

At the rate AI is advancing, the question isn’t whether it will enhance health care, but how and when.  Here’s what I predict:

  • Algorithms will get “smarter.”  Today, AI can offer much more data than a doctor could remember or even learn.  The old adage says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”  But AI may tell doctors what they don’t know.  More data means doctors can offer better care, and our health will improve.
  • Getting care may be easier.  The tricorder XPrize will be awarded in 2017.  The winner must invent a handheld device that diagnoses thirteen health conditions and measures five vital signs.  As of this writing there are several contenders.  Is this the beginning of home care for things that used to send us to the doctor’s office?
  • AI may handle telemedicine.  If it can be written or photographed, AI will be able to make diagnoses and suggest treatment plans without the need of a doctor.  AI may still need a doctor’s guidance, but their role in patient care will change in the future.
  • Doctors will get smarter and more skilled.  Think about it.  Doctors see routine patients and common illnesses.  AI may handle these from home, at kiosks, or with non-physician health care personnel.  That frees up doctor time.  Instead of prescribing the same cream for the same rash several times per month, your dermatologist can spend more time with you.  Instead of using the same medicine for the same sneeze, your allergist may study newer techniques.  Medical students may spend less time on common ailments and more time on diseases AI can’t solve.  We may wind up with fewer general doctors and more brain surgeons, oncologists, and research physicians.

It’s an exciting time in health care.  Artificial intelligence is already helping patients and is improving quickly.  The future of AI in health care is uncertain.  But I believe it will help doctors help people live healthier lives.

Question: Do you have a doctor that already uses AI?  If so, please tell me about it in the comments below.


You May Also Like:

4 Reasons You Don’t Want an Automated Vision Test

6 Problems When You Mix Artificial Intelligence and Health Care