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In Your Head | July/August '22

In Your Head: Digitization in Ophthalmology

How has digitization affected your practice, and how do you anticipate it to advance care in the future?

John Kitchens, MD

I have been fortunate in my 17-year career to see nearly the full evolution of digitization thus far—from the development of color photographs and angiograms to fully digital systems, contact lenses to scrutinize the macula to OCT imaging, and paper records to electronic health records. At times, progress has seemed slow and arduous, like climbing a mountain, but in hindsight, these advances have developed quickly. I think the future will be heavily influenced by cloud-based systems that will allow for improved sharing of images and records. Eventually, these systems will allow for AI analysis of this information, which could lead to more accurate evaluation and diagnosis, improved referral timing, and optimized treatment recommendations based on the patient’s unique history and findings, resulting in overall improved care.

Zachary Zavodni, MD

I have been working with a cloud-based digital surgery planner for quite some time. This technology integrates the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative data entry previously done or monitored by my technicians. It has enabled access to surgical planning data from any device at any time, allowing me and my staff to interface with the surgery process with greater convenience than ever before. Seamless data transfer from the electronic health record to diagnostic devices, IOL planning tools, and intraoperative aberrometry and 3D visualization systems adds efficiency and confidence at every step of the process for surgeons and staff alike. The time savings afforded from digital health systems will surely translate to increased patient encounters and surgical volumes. I have no doubt that cloud-based applications will become routine technology used by high-volume cataract surgeons around the world.

Matthew Brink, MD

As a glaucoma specialist who also does refractive surgery, I rely heavily on software-based progression analysis as well as the excellent suite of hardware and software solutions for refractive procedures (Forum and the IOLMaster 700 [Carl Zeiss Meditec] are some of my go-to platforms). As for the future, I am excited about the implementation of AI that has already begun disrupting so many industries. I believe that we are on the cusp of widespread implementation of AI in ophthalmology. With advances in ophthalmic imaging resolution plus sophisticated computer vision technologies, we are about to see an explosion of new technologies. As with all technology in medicine, there are regulatory roadblocks. Although we will need to be patient, we should buckle in because I’m betting it will be an exciting ride!

Eric Rosenberg, DO, MSE

Ironically, as technology has advanced, so has the bulky and dissonant nature of its integration into medicine. I feel strongly that the key to success in the future of ophthalmic practice is the integration and incorporation of interoperable digital solutions. While diagnostic and therapeutic technologies have advanced ophthalmic care and will continue to do so, we need to appreciate the ability to apply the novel technologies that will bridge each platform together. This will begin to release the practitioner from the shackles of repetitive manual input/output tasks, thereby opening the door to enhanced patient-physician interaction.

John W. Kitchens, MD
  • Partner, Retina Associates of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
  • jkitchens@gmail.com
  • Financial disclosure: Consultant (Alcon)
Zachary Zavodni, MD
Matthew Brink, MD
  • Glaucoma and advanced anterior segment surgeon, Center for Excellence in Eye Care, Miami
  • matthewjabrink@gmail.com
  • Financial disclosure: None
Eric Rosenberg, DO, MSE
  • Cornea, cataract, and refractive surgeon, SightMD, Babylon, New York
  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Westchester Medical Center, New York
  • Cofounder, Digital Ophthalmic Society, www.digitalophthalmicsociety.com
  • Member, ME Editorial Board
  • ericr29@gmail.com
  • Financial disclosure: None