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New Developments And Products In Technology

Eye with technology overlay

Technology is constantly advancing and, as eye care professionals, it is important to not only keep up with but also to embrace the relevant technological developments and products. This article is just a brief overview of some of the new trends in technologies that are relevant to eye care professionals.


AI Lens Technologies


Artificial intelligence has become a major advantage for lens manufacturing; Due to advanced computer algorithms and integrations, it is now possible to produce a variety of versatile lenses at a lower cost. Lenses that are created via artificial intelligence are here, and there are many options, some being...


Vision Rx Lab has introduced an AI lens, called Nova Ai, a new lens that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to create an advanced Binocular Balancing System that minimizes blur on either side of the corridor. The lens was premiered in Dubai at VisionPlus Expo 2022. This high-end progressive lens is designed to minimize blur and widen the corridor for optimized natural vision via a combination of three branded technologies; Maxi View Technology, Bespoke Visual Fields, and Ocular Dynamics. Meanwhile, Digital Profile technology enables optimal positioning for hand-held devices like cell phones and tablets.


Essilor has also recently released the AI Varilux XR Series lens, which is the first-ever “eye-responsive” progressive lens. The Varilux XR combines three new technologies; nanoptix, XTEND, and XR-MOTION to deliver a lens that accommodates a much greater range of needs than a traditional progressive lens.  Nanoptix absorbs distortions and reduces the “swim effect” seen with many other types of progressives.  XTEND improves sharpness at multiple targets and helps improve clarity for objects in motion.  Meanwhile, XR-MOTION optimizes binocular vision at the near and minimizes spherical and cylindrical power disparities. The combination of these new technologies promises to deliver a far better lens and optimize the visual experience of progressive wearers.


The Optical Metaverse


Built by eye care professionals for eye care professionals, The Optical Metaverse offers a way into the future of technology, communication, healthcare, and commerce. Powered by The Omniverse City, this metaverse has plenty of intractability options and amazing graphics. The Optical Metaverse offers tours and has a strong team to help new users become acclimated to the environment. Eye care professionals and retailers alike are slowly embracing the malleable space and utilizing the technology to achieve their goals. There are plenty of spaces to explore including an expo, virtual stores, meeting rooms, and even a museum. While The Optical Metaverse does host special events throughout the year, curious users can visit the space at any time.


AI Scribes Coming to Healthcare


Several technology companies have offered AI scribes for healthcare professionals. Those who have worked with a scribe in the past can understand the value of not having to worry about writing things down during a patient visit. Companies like Simbo AI and Deep Scribe are committed to perfecting an AI-drive voice-to-text scribe that allows for recording relevant medical information. Unfortunately, the technology isn’t perfect yet. One drawback is the inability of AI to recognize non-work vocal expressions like “uh-huh” or “uh-uh.” Still, AI scribes offer a lot of potential and, possible savings, for eye care professionals.


VR and AR in Eye Care


Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have both quietly permeated the world of vision. First, a few quick definitions because AR and VR are often confusing terms. AR refers to a reality that is changed; A great example here is Pokémon Go, which allows you to enable AR mode to catch Pokémon in your living room. VR, on the other hand, transports you to a brand new place that is different from your physical space. AR is already being utilized in various ways including virtual try-on, where users can see an image of themselves in a potential frame, and low vision headsets, which allow individuals with low vision to see their surroundings by circumventing the areas that are damaged by ocular disease.

Meanwhile, virtual reality has made head-set-based activities such as visiting VR metaverse spaces and playing VR games increasingly popular with the general public. While not everyone is using a headset at the moment, these are slowly growing in popularity, and, since sight is one of the primary ways to engage within a virtual space, VR-compatible glasses, or VR glasses that can incorporate a prescription aren’t far behind.


But what about other potential headset effects? We simply don’t know how headsets will affect vision simply because the technology is brand new. However, if we treat headsets as just screens that are closer to the ocular surface, there are a few potential effects that can occur. For instance, we’ve seen myopia and dry eye both increase with longer screen time use.


Smart Glasses


Along with AR and VR, Smart Glasses are also slowly growing in both technological offerings and popularity. The most popular, and affordable, smart glasses, offer Bluetooth connection, speaker, and headphones capability to allow users to listen to music and talk on the phone without the use of a speaker or headphones. Meanwhile, there are other companies that are looking to add AR and VR capabilities to smart glasses to replace bulky headsets.


Contact Lens Technology Advancements


While we are still waiting for AR and VR contacts, there have been some great new lenses launched that offer blue light protection and better tolerance for dry eye patients. There is even a contact lens that can help patients monitor their glucose levels.


Social Media and Global Communications Potential


This one isn’t entirely new; However, it is worth a mention because of how powerful it can be. Social media and other communications platforms have allowed eye care professionals from all over the world to communicate, meet, and share ideas like never before. Optical, optometry and ophthalmology virtual events now include participants from all over the United States and from other countries in the world. In the past, communications may have hinged on email and phone calls, but now, vision and eye care professionals can sit down in a virtual “face-to-face” with colleagues from all over the world- it’s just a matter of synchronizing the time zones!


Telemedicine


Telemedicine has long been a topic of debate in eyecare and healthcare alike. While some feel that telemedicine simply cannot measure up to in-person care, others are embracing the option that would allow a form of care for patients who lack access or who simply would not seek care in person. Love it or hate it, telemedicine is here to stay, with companies like 20/20 Now actively recruiting eye care providers who are willing to do examinations from the comfort of their own home. Other companies such as 1-800-Contacts, are also happily advertising virtual eye exams. And, since patients are getting their eye exams at home, remote frame styling, optical, and ophthalmic technician jobs are also slowly gaining popularity.


3-D Printing


From optical devices to custom-made frames, 3-D printing technology has slowly been gaining ground. In June 2023, engineers at UC Irvine developed a method for 3-D printing optical grade glass. 3-D printing of smart contact lenses for augmented reality is also a possibility thanks to researchers from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) and the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST). While the technology for printing augmented reality contacts is fairly new, we have plenty of movies to give us an idea of what to expect from the high-tech lens — though not many ideas about the potential side effects.


Technology is constantly changing and evolving. While this article attempts to cover recent developments, it is entirely possible that even months from now, new technologies will arise that impact optical, optometry, and ophthalmology professionals.

Is there anything that this article missed? Leave your feedback in the comments below.


Article written by Irina Yakubin, OD

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