The world of optometry and ophthalmology are changing many aspects of life at lightning speed. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence displayed by machines versus that of human capability. Its definition is actually much more complex and refers to devices that are able to perceive their environment and achieve a goal. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it is real, and it has a place in ophthalmology today.

AI, known by some as computer analytics, is finding its way into a variety of optometry procedures for diagnosing and treating ocular diseases. Those in the field of ophthalmology acknowledge the breadth of opportunities it brings to the field in terms of greater efficiency and modern eyecare practices.

There seems to be no limit to the capabilities of AI as it relates to ‘deep learning’. According to IBM and Google, AI is currently able to detect diabetic retinopathy and other retinal conditions such as macular degeneration. Interestingly, research shows that there are times clinicians disagree about a diagnosis but AI returns the same correct diagnosis each time.

Unfortunately, medical professionals who have devoted their lives to attaining the required education and developing their expertise are concerned that AI will replace them, making their services redundant and no longer necessary. But, those who have worked in the area of AI applications will attest to the fact that in the end, it’s one more tool for providing exceptional diagnostics and treatment recommendations for each patient.

In the end, and just like any new concept or tool, there are advantages and disadvantages to using artificial intelligence in general and in ophthalmology. For example, there is the realization that it is cost effective and efficient. Conversely, there are times when compassion is required and that cannot take place in the world of AI. Too, AI could lead to an increase in unemployment and it could open up the door to the potential for an increase in hacking and other forms of cybercrime.

The professionals at Island Eyecare feel a responsibility to keep the public informed about new inventions and procedures on the horizon. Contact us if you want to learn more about AI and ophthalmology or for all of your eyecare needs.