Artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning algorithms, and convolutional neural networks (CNN) have changed optometry, health care, and 21st-century society.
Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) utilizing evolving, diverse databases are using complex, trained CNNs1 to further the diagnosis and management of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and refractive conditions such as keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration (PMD), and other corneal ectasias.
Previously by Dr. Wong: Innovative mobile technology targets low vision
The modern field of optometry will move exponentially toward the intersection of disruptive technologies, especially AI, as we progress into the 21st-century. Autonomous robots, automobiles, facial recognition on smartphones, and smart global positioning systems (GPS) have become integral to everyday life.2,3
As the fields of neural and cognitive science converge, it is important for ODs to understand the ethical and legal implications involved in utilizing these new technologies in day-to-day practice.
The growth of AI in optometry and health care needs to be understood and appropriately utilized by ODs today.4
Indeed, changes in the optometric workforce will occur as roles evolve. The ability to use innovative technology, digital thinking processes, and critical thinking will create new opportunities in eye care as ODs move further toward “data analysis” and away from “data collection.”5
AI is accurate for what it does well, and poor for things it is not trained to understand (such as congenital optic nerve anomalies not in a database, or age ranges not in its software).
Therefore, an OD’s ability to properly use AI should be the focus— not the growing fear that ODs’ jobs will be replaced. AI allows ODs the opportunity to improve patient outcomes for the global healthcare community.6
It is my contention that the skills acquired from an education in the humanities will be the most important determinants in providing future high-quality optometric care.
Being competent in the use of innovative technologies is a must that will include critical thinking and the ability to manage complex cases in real time. Patient communication and education skills involving cultural competence, language, and alternative forms of communication (such as mobile technology)7 are also critical.
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