New technology is on the horizon that can help you streamline your practice

New technologies are emerging that will transform ophthalmology and optometry. They may not be the ones that are on your radar, however. “While the eye care world has been fixated on telemedicine and online eye exams, robots are set to impact our 21st century world,” wrote Thomas A. Wong, O.D. in the Optometry Times.

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If robots in eye care sounds futuristic, I can assure you the future is already here. At the 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in Baltimore, surgeons demonstrated the first successful use of robotic retinal surgery on a human eye. And a new robotic retinal imaging system called Nexy has been cleared by the FDA.

Here’s a look at what this technology can do, and how eye care practices could benefit from implementing it.

How does Nexy work?

Nexy (Konan Medical) is a fully automated, small-footprint retinal or fundus imaging machine capable of producing high-definition color images of the ocular fundus with a 45° angle of view in under 15 seconds, according to the company.

A new robotic retinal imaging system automatically captures high-def images and sends them wirelessly to EHRs and reading centers.

The robot automatically guides 3-axis positioning for each eye, capturing polarization-clarified images. The information is sent wirelessly to the electronic health record or a reading center, often for diabetes screening. Nexy currently is being used in Europe for diabetic eye-screening and other health-care initiatives, and is now available in the U.S.

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You can see how it works in this video on Konan Medical’s web site.

How does this help practices?

New technology like Nexy could potentially integrate with artificial intelligence (AI) systems to diagnose diabetic retinopathy and extract other relevant information. AI will likely become more common in eye care practices over the next few years, assisting with clinical decision-making and increasing practitioners’ efficiency and accuracy.

Robotics and AI can help diagnose diabetic retinopathy with value-priced devices that can be operated by support staff.

Robotic devices like Nexy can also help practices deliver value-priced retinal examinations because they can easily be used by support staff, not just the optometrists and ophthalmologists.

As advances like Nexy make clear, robotics are already affecting eye care. As more eye care practitioners become aware of and open to these innovations, we can embrace these new technologies to make our clinical practice—and the lives of our patients—easier.