Peek into optometry’s future with trends and technology

David Talley, OD, FAAO, discusses what trends and technology will offer to the optometric profession in the not-too-distant future.

David Talley, OD, FAAO, reviewed what trends and technology optometry can look to in the future during a lunch course at the 90th annual SECO International meeting in Atlanta.

Dr. Talley, who practices in Memphis, TN, discussed that trends and technology in the optometric profession can be intertwined. He cautioned attendees to expand their knowledge and abilities. “If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer,” he said, “everything looks like a nail.”

Trends include:

• ODs will move to refractive lasers.

• There will be a continued expansion of ODs using injectable medications. Dr. Talley mentioned that Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) is one of the easiest injections to perform, and he has been using Botox in Memphis for 20 years.

• Continued expansion of ODs performing minor surgical procedures on the eye and adnexa, such as:

  • Draining cysts

  • Snipping neoplasm

  • Chalazion incision

  • Entropion care

• ODs expanding their presence with third-party payers, and electronic health records (EHR) including e-prescribing and Physician Quality Reporting Systems (PQRS)

New technology to watch for:

• Molecular technology and genomics. Gene chip analysis would allow practitioners to better identify and treat eye disease and better prescribe antibiotics. For example, ODs would know if a patient would likely better respond to one antibiotic over another.

• Radio frequency technology. Dr. Talley mentioned the Ellman Surgitron Unit, which allows practitioners to remove eye lesions, resection skin tumors, and perform blepharoplasty.

• Plasma surgery. This nanotechnology creates low-energy incisions on the ocular surface. Dr. Talley showed how the Fugo Plasma Blade sterilizes the wound and controls hemostasis in procedures like filtering glaucoma surgery and removing conjunctival nevus and neoplasm.

• Tissue engineering and biomechanics in ocular disease management. This includes organ regeneration and replacement, wound healing, and adhesion. Consider how growing corneas for research would change the research model, Dr. Talley asked. Other uses include using stem cells to repair tissue and anti-VEGF therapy.

• Ocular iontophoresis. Dr. Talley mentioned EyeGate II Delivery System, which would allow practitioners to allow medication into the anterior and posterior chambers without injection.

• Femtodynamics. Femtosecond lasers will be used for more applications, such as thin LASIK, glaucoma surgery, limbal stem cell harvesting, and grafting corneas with very little induced astigmatism.

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