Technological advancements that are taking the eyecare world by storm
Believe it or not, in ancient times, eye diseases were treated with primitive tools (we’re talking very sharp–and terrifying–blades) and spells were performed as a means of addressing medical concerns. Thankfully, the world of optometry (and medicine more broadly) looks much different now.
Modern technology has allowed for major advancements in the field of medicine, and eye care has definitely reaped the benefits. There have been numerous noteworthy optometry innovations, especially over the last few decades.
The science of optometry dates back thousands of years, and it took centuries upon centuries for simple eye care—such as eye glasses—to evolve.
Needless to say, we’ve come a long way.
Promising new innovations are on the horizon in the eyecare world, and we’re outlining some fascinating discoveries that have made a profound mark on the field. If you ask us, eye care is getting more exciting by the day.
21st century eye care advancements
Given the rate at which technology advanced throughout the 21st century, this particular time period has been especially pivotal for ocular progress. There have been countless momentous innovations, particularly in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, medications, and surgeries.
The list of scientific advancements is endless, but here are some examples of the eye care improvements that materialized in the 21st century:
● By the early 2000s, computers were widely mainstream, which benefited the optometry field immeasurably. Doctors were not only newly able to document patient records electronically, but they could also use automated data-gathering and researching tools, which helped substantially with diagnostics. From simple elements of optometry (such as inputting patient data) to more complex clinical components (such as analyzing test results), the digital world has elevated eye care in once unimaginable ways.
● The Human Genome Project, an international scientific research project, left an indelible impact on optometry.
● The early 2000s also saw stellar advancements in the therapeutic space, both with surgical and non-surgical treatments. New laser technologies—including the femtosecond laser —were introduced, spurring a different dimension of accuracy, and improving the safety of refractive surgery, corneal transplants, lamellar surgeries, intrastromal ablation, and cataract surgery for opthalmologists.
● Medical advancements—especially in the realm of antibacterial drugs—have progressed exponentially in recent years, and have completely changed the way various ocular infections are treated today. For example, 4th generation agents (which include moxifloxacin, gatifloxacin, and trovafloxacin) have totally changed the game, and only became a key treatment in ophthalmology and optometry during this century.
Naturally, the more technology has progressed, the more medical advancements scientists have managed to make. In recent years, the evolution of advanced imaging has allowed doctors to gain a deeper understanding of the eye, which has resulted in more nuanced diagnostic tools that have not only helped with discovering issues, but also solving them. Now, the healing process is also much easier to track.
As we mentioned above, there are too many recent ocular innovations to name, however, there are two specific breakthroughs that deserve a special shoutout, including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), robotic-assisted surgery and virtual reality.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
OCT is an eye imaging test that uses light waves to create a cross-section image of the retina. OCT allows doctors to get a more detailed view of the eye and its many layers, and discover potential eye conditions (such as macular edema, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and central serous retinopathy) plus other areas of concern.
The nuanced images have been instrumental for shaping treatment guidance for various retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease. OCT has become an essential tool for prevention, diagnostics, and determining treatment protocols, as it gives doctors a true peek into the inner workings of the eye.
Using robotic technology in eye surgery has also become a critical component of ophthalmic care, and it is expected to evolve even further in the future as new robotic mechanisms materialize.
Robotic-assisted surgery is preferable to traditional surgery in many instances, as it offers superhuman dexterity and precision—which, for an organ as fragile as the eye, is especially important. Robotic-assisted surgery also offers enhanced maneuverability, sensory feedback and depth perception.
Doctors in the field believe that robotic-assisted surgery can lead to better surgical outcomes for patients, particularly as new advancements are made to enhance the robotic technology and address shortcomings associated with it. While not being employed yet in Canada, this advancement may soon be adopted in ophthalmology circles in the years to come.
On the topic of robotics, virtual reality is playing an increasingly important role in the realm of optometry. FYidoctors has funded research in this field, investing in a virtual reality (VR) training lab at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science , with the aim of developing strong doctors with more sophisticated skillsets.
Through using simulation equipment and engaging in VR training exercises, students are given the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience, learning how to confidently recognize, identify and diagnose eye and systemic disease.
More broadly, virtual reality is also being used to create new vision therapies and treatments for ocular conditions, which are expected to become more commonplace as technology continues to advance.
At FYidoctors, we are committed to keeping up to date with the latest ocular innovations, and we pride ourselves on giving the best care to our clients. Book your next comprehensive eye exam , today at your local FYidoctors clinic, and see for yourself all that we have to offer.