The question of how to maintain quality healthcare standards while forging ahead into new discoveries and developments is baffling to many clinicians. Optometry’s success in the coming years will depend on the ability of ODs to overcome challenges like economic competitiveness and utilize and grow alongside technological advances that are changing the way business is conducted, like artificial intelligence. Diving into the approximately 5,500 publications of peer reviewed materials exchanged on the National Library of Medicine every day is a great place to start if ODs can come up with the energy and time expenditures to do so. AI is here to help.
Problems and opportunities
Employment of ODs is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.11 Science in all medical disciplines has revealed that patients and their physicians must begin treatments early to prevent cell loss. Nutritional supplements play a role earlier, while pharmaceutical drugs are best used later.9,10
Is it not time to move independently of ophthalmology in providing preventative eye care? All primary-care medicines are facing the same realities.
It is not a matter of science in 2020, but the adoption of bold new strategies that will best shape the future. AI can make health care human again, allowing optometrists to embrace our rooted tradition of face-to-face encounters as we get on with the business of preserving vision.
The soon-to-be-released feature-length documentary, “Open Your Eyes” delivers the resounding message that the eye holds the secrets to health. It explores how America became so sick and how optometrists can now see almost 300 diseases in the eye.
Kerry Gelb, OD, travels throughout North America and Europe and explores in contrast the Centenarians in Costa Rica, who for the most part have no disease and live beyond 100 years without the major cause of blindness seen in the US. Interviews with medical experts, PhDs, researchers, and journalists convey the emerging importance of eye doctors, how they have a major impact on disease prevention, and why they should stand at the forefront of health and wellness.
1. Topol E. Deep Medicine. 1st Edition. Hatchett Books, New York, NY. 2019.
2. Lipton BH. The Biology of Belief, Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. 10th Edition. Hay House, Inc. Carlsbad, CA. 2016.
3. Lustig, R. Video: Sugar the Bitter Truth, https://youtu.be/ dBnniua6-oM. Accessed 1/29/20.
4. Lustig, R. Sugar the Bitter Truth. Plume, Penguin Group. New York, NY. 2014.
5. Richer S. Is there a prevention and treatment strategy for age related macular degeneration? J Am Optom Assoc. 1993;64(12):838-50.
6. Centers for Disease Control. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/ pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf. Accessed 1/29/30.
7. Richer S, Gelb K, Jaffe R. Windows into Wellness: Eight Biomarkers You Should Know. Rev Optom. 2018 Sept 15, 2018, pages 30-33..
8. Knobbe C. Ancestral Dietary Strategy to Prevent and Treat Macular Degeneration. 1st edition. Cure AMD Foundation. Boulder, CO. 2016.
9. Richer S, Poteet J, Ruskin D, Summerton S, Hitchmoth D. Wellness Essentials for Clinical Practice, 2nd Edition. Suppl Rev Optom. 15 October 2018.
10. Richer S, Poteet J, Ruskin D, Summerton S, Hitchmoth D. Wellness Essentials for Clinical Practice. 3nd Edition. Suppl Rev Optom. 15 October 2019.
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Optometrists. Available at: https://www.bls.gov/ ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm. Accessed 1/29/20.
12. Chester W, Engfehr K, Gelb, K. Open your Eyes. https:// www.imdb.com/title/tt11487298/?ref_=nm_knf_i2. Accessed 1/29/20.