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4 Ways Advancements in Technology Are Improving Eye Health

5 months, 1 week ago

3902  0
Posted on Jan 05, 2024, 12 p.m.

Vision impairment and disability can be debilitating in a person's daily life. From slight discomfort and inconvenience to chronic and severe pain, eye problems should be addressed as early as possible to prevent them from worsening. The CDC's fast facts on common eye disorders point to approximately 12 million US adults having vision impairment, including one million who are blind. Experts predict that the number of American adults suffering from uncorrectable vision impairment may reach 8.96 million by 2050.

Fortunately, advancements in technologies over the years have done wonders for ophthalmology, allowing eye doctors to detect, diagnose, and provide care and treatment for crucial eye conditions as early as possible. In this post, we'll look at four ways advancements in technology are improving eye health.

Eye exams and screenings

Many eye conditions and other eye-related diseases start from the eye exam. Thanks to the Internet and digital technology, people can easily and quickly book and schedule an eye exam online, pointing them to the nearest optometrists in their area. These eye exams are crucial for detecting any problems with your vision that may need correcting and early signs for other health conditions like diabetes and glaucoma. Over time, scientists and researchers have also developed more advanced technologies for screenings. Adaptive optics technology, which is used to visualize individual retinal cells in a living eye, can significantly improve earlier diagnosis and check the efficacy of treatment for major blinding eye diseases. So, not only has technology made it simpler for people to access eye exams, but it has also helped eye doctors become more efficient in diagnosing and treating eye conditions.

Eye surgeries

Another area of ophthalmology transformed by tech advancements is eye surgery. There was a time when cataract surgeries were carried out by making small incisions in the eye using a small, precise blade. An ultrasonic probe is then used to break up the cataract in the eye into pieces that are then removed. For safety, some surgeons may only operate on one eye at a time, even if cataracts may be present in both, as you would need to recover. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, eye surgeons can now perform femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery, which has also been approved for the treatment of astigmatism. Since this development, surgeons have praised laser-assisted surgery as an excellent aid for fine-tuning the surgery process with an added level of precision. The evolving role of femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery has impacted doctors' ability to address corneal astigmatism, capsulotomy precision, and other complex cases.

Bionic eyes

For people who have sustained damage to the retina or have vision loss, bionic eyes can be surgically implanted to allow light transduction. In a previous post, we wrote about the race for the world's first bionic eye, highlighting an endeavor led by researchers at Monash University. The Melbourne researchers built a bionic device to restore vision to the blind via a brain implant. If successful, the same device can be adapted to potentially treat patients with paralysis as well. An earlier version of the bionic eye was reported in 2012. Like the brain implant being developed at Monash, the bionic eye model comprises an external camera, transmitter, and an internal microchip deliver signals to the brain. The patient reported being able to see light, albeit not being able to distinguish things within the environment. Since then, more advanced technologies have been developed to help patients make out abstract images and their environments.

AI in eye care

Finally, technology's crucial role in improving eye health is the adoption of AI in eye care and treatment. The development of digital health and AI applications has risen in the last decade, and these tools are just as impactful for eye health as they are for general health. The use cases for AI in eye health range from increasing access to eye care to supporting clinical decision-making with a data-driven approach. AI has also been crucial in helping make ophthalmological diagnoses. Deep learning has helped facilitate the analysis of unstructured data and is used in diagnostic medical imaging to improve diagnostic accuracy for conditions like diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and refractive error. AI application in eye health for high-income countries expands to risk assessment and health policy and planning.

This article was written for WHN by RUTH ANN JOHN who is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about health, wellness, and sustainability. When she’s not typing away at her keyboard, you can find her completing an oil painting or doing DIY projects.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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