May 2019


Technology & innovation in ophthalmology

by Eric Donnenfeld, MD EyeWorld Chief Medical Editor

In the course of my career in ophthalmology, I have seen intracapsular cataract surgery give way to extracapsular surgery then phacoemulsification, the routine use of intraocular lenses, pars plana vitrectomy, the excimer laser, and a pharmaceutical treatment for macular degeneration. The list could go on indefinitely. No field of medicine has benefited from innovations in medical technology more than ophthalmology, and the recipients of these advancements have been our patients.
Medical technology is an all-encompassing term that includes every aspect of innovation in our field, including advancements in pharmaceuticals, information technology, and diagnostic and therapeutic devices. Most of these advances have been accomplished through a synergistic relationship between industry and ophthalmologists that has fueled innovation. The innovations, in turn, have given physicians tools to better diagnose and treat our patients.
Many technological advances have come from areas outside of medicine. Innovations in aspheric and diffractive IOLs are rooted in optical advances designed to improve telescopes and cameras. Before it was applied to the cornea, the excimer laser was developed by IBM to etch microchips for computers. Then there’s information technology. With the increased use of electronic health records (EHR), telemedicine, and mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones, physicians and patients both see the benefits that these new medical technologies bring. For instance, physicians now have access to any type of information they need—drug information, research and studies, patient history or records, and more—within seconds, wherever they are, thanks to mobile devices. It is now rare to need to reference a book when a smartphone can provide the answers within seconds.
One of the main benefits in ophthalmology of information technology has been the integration of new devices with diagnostic and guidance systems to help improve patient outcomes in cataract surgery, vision correction, IOP reduction, and drug delivery options. I think we can anticipate even more accuracy and safety in procedures thanks to continued innovations in the field.
Technological innovations in ophthalmology and in the healthcare industry generally continue to provide physicians with new ways to improve the quality of care delivered to our patients and, indeed, healthcare around the world.

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Ophthalmology News - EyeWorld Magazine
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