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Need a 2nd Opinion? The Computer Will See You Now.

Exciting advances in artificial intelligence give today's ophthalmologists new weapons for diagnosing-and treating-eye diseases

SAN DIEGO, CALIF - September 18, 2019 - As recently as 20 years ago, the idea of using computer algorithms, commonly known as artificial intelligence, to detect such eye disorders as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration was a pipedream for a handful of far-thinking researchers.

Today, it's a reality.

"People tend to think of artificial intelligence as the reason we now have self-driving cars and smart appliances," says Sandy T. Feldman, Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego, "but in the last few years, it has made tremendous inroads into the world of medicine, including ophthalmology."

What is artificial intelligence...or AI as it is frequently referred? Quite simply, it's the ability of a computer program to actually think and learn...reflecting many of the same traits as human intelligence. First recognized as actually being feasible in the 1950s, AI has grown to the point where it affects all of our lives, even when we're not aware of it. However, it wasn't until such AI research giants as Google and IBM began exploring ways to use AI in the medical fields that helped it evolve into an indispensable tool for doctors and hospitals.

"It's truly amazing how these computers actually become 'smarter' at detecting abnormalities in the eye each time they're used," says Dr. Feldman. "What's more, they can completely analyze a retina scan faster and more thoroughly than any human. They can actually study every single pixel on a scan, take note of any disease-related signs and deliver a report almost immediately."

So, how can AI actually help ophthalmologists in real practice? Generally, MDs and community clinics don't have the resources to screen patients for diabetic retinopathy; instead they have to send the patients to ophthalmologist and optometrists. There is often a delay and many patients do not get the follow up care that is needed as they need to take time off from work. AI machines can assist here by enabling screening in the primary care doctor's office and alert the doctor to potential problems. The result? More people who need to see an ophthalmologist will do that - and get proper treatment at a much earlier stage.

"The possibilities are endless right now," says Feldman. "In fact, just like the AI programs are continually "learning" how to detect eye diseases we ophthalmologists are continually learning how best to work this amazing technology into our practices to better serve our patients."

Dr. Feldman adds that one thing patients don't have to worry about is machines eventually replacing human doctors.

"Machines might be able to help us make a better diagnosis, but their bedside manner and ability to make medical decisions just don't measure up," she assures us. "Practicing medicine involves helping patients make sound decisions about their treatment. That's something only human doctors can do.

"Well, at least at this time."

About Sandy T. Feldman, MD

Sandy T. Feldman MD, Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center, is a world-renowned corneal expert who has successfully performed more than 20,000 refractive procedures. Clearview has been voted Best LASIK center by the San Diego Union Tribune (five times) and by CityBeat Magazine (three times). Dr. Feldman's many awards include Top Doc San Diego; the Goldline Award, an honor granted to the top 10 laser eye care specialists in the U.S.; and the Silver Elite RealSelf Award. She has also been profiled in publications such as Forbes and Newsweek and makes frequent appearances as an expert commentator on TV talk shows and news programs. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons, as well as a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. More details at clearvieweyes.com.

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