For many it's a simple choice – if you have problems with your eyesight, see an optometrist. As we get older, most of us will probably need glasses, particularly for those that spent most of the working life hunched over a computer all day long. But this once seemingly straight forward profession of optometry is changing, rapidly. And these changes which are coming to the field of optometry may very well signal things to come in other areas of health service as well.
Most people have a camera on their computer. These cameras are already pretty good, but in a short time, they will improve to the point of working as virtual eye doctors. That’s right, the next time you want your eyes checked you might not even need to leave your living room. Artificial Intelligence and aspects of Virtual Reality are already all around us, and are improving at a rapid pace. They look set to not only change the way we go see our optometrist but also how doctors analyze our health situation. Imagine if you could check your blood pressure automatically at regular intervals during the day. Maybe even monitor your heart beat to look for arrhythmias. This will all become mainstream within a short time.
And it doesn’t stop there. Researchers these days insist that it is now possible to implant a hair-thin device that measures blood at certain intervals. Great for problems relating to diabetes, for example. All this self-monitoring could severely reduce deaths, and prevent a host of medical emergencies. And most likely improve diagnostics many times over. Not least because all the data that’s entering needs to be stored somewhere, but also somebody needs to merge this data to understand what is going on with the patient. Centrally stored patient-archives, in other words, that contain more information about the patient than any other doctor in history has had at their fingertips before.
Everything to do with our eyes is expected to be one of the first areas where we see the most changes. It will be possible to do most preliminary tests at home. Saving time and money both for patient, doctor, and society as a whole. This market is also highly lucrative and could become even more lucrative with automation. Imagine, too, the possibilities of 3D-printing your glass frames, for example. This is just one example how much of the innovation we could potentially see in health services in the future, starting with the field of optometry.