The winds of technological change are swirling around us in the field of ophthalmology, bringing with them a deluge of innovative tools. These exciting innovations include the likes of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, the metaverse and robotics with machine learning.
I have had the great privilege of knowing Zack Tertel, the managing editor of Ophthalmology Management, for more than 5 years now. When he approached me with the opportunity to act as the guest editor for an AI-themed edition of OM, I immediately became energized with the possibilities.
In this issue, we address many of the ways that AI will impact — and is already impacting — our industry.
A digital revolution
As we stand at the foothills of this digital revolution, it is imperative for ophthalmologists to embrace the opportunities offered by AI — and navigate the challenges. With informed minds and open criticisms, we can ensure that these powerful tools truly serve the greater good of vision and eye health for our patients.
To date, FDA-approved AI algorithms are already peering into retinas and new technologies are being developed to identify subtle glaucomatous changes with suprahuman exactitude, while blockchain technology securely and fastidiously stores sensitive patient data, empowering decentralized control and ownership. Meanwhile, the metaverse beckons with the promise of immersive surgical training and remote consultations while supplementing worldwide discussions by collapsing geographical barriers and democratizing access. Finally, robotic surgery and machine learning algorithms have the capacity to tirelessly scour vast datasets, unearthing hidden patterns and correlations that could unlock approaches to therapeutic treatments.
These nascent technologies, once the stuff of science fiction, are rapidly reshaping the landscape of ophthalmic care, demanding not only our adoption but also our careful consideration of their ethical implications, potential pitfalls and transformative possibilities.
When, not if
I want to thank all of the contributors who have shared their expertise in making this such a comprehensive edition of OM.
We hope you, our readers, gain a new understanding of how far we’ve come and appreciate what solutions are on the precipice of adoption. Lastly, and most importantly, formulate your own questions and concerns moving into the next chapter of ophthalmology; because, it is no longer a question of if, but when.
But don’t take my word for it. When querying Bard, Google’s newest NLP AI project, with the question, “Will AI have a place in the future of ophthalmology?” we are met with the following response: “As AI technology continues to evolve, its impact on ophthalmology will only grow more profound. AI will not replace ophthalmologists but rather augment their expertise, providing them with powerful tools to improve patient care and outcomes. The future of ophthalmology is undoubtedly intertwined with AI, and ophthalmologists who embrace this transformation will be at the forefront of advancing eye care and making a lasting impact on the lives of patients worldwide.” OM