O.D. to O.D.


Ironically, the first video to air on MTV (rewind to 1981) was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. Now imagine being a radio star and seeing this new idea of music appear overnight. You, the radio star, have two choices: 1) Find a new career or 2) Embrace and adapt.

Are there any disrupters in eye care? Is there a reason to feel threatened? I received quite a few comments about this headline:

“FDA permits marketing of artificial intelligence-based device to detect certain diabetes-related eye problems.” ( ).

If you read about this technology, my guess is you knew how the radio star felt. That first pause is not a bad thing. It is important to get past that initial reaction to move on to the “3rd alternative,” what Dr. Stephen R. Covey refers to as determining what opportunity this technology can bring to us — in this case, opportunities for patient care — instead of thinking we are in a contest of technology vs. humans.

If we go back to the example of radio and video again, let’s look at the reality of 2019: According to Nielsen’s Q2 2018 Total Audience Report, radio reaches 93% of those ages 18 to 34, more than any other media platform. This same study shows that on a daily basis, those ages 18 and older spend more time listening to radio than consuming video on TV-connected devices, computers and smartphone/tablet video apps combined. A Quora article ( ) says, “You can multi-task with the radio on and drive your car with the radio on. . . the fact that you can watch what you want when you want on your laptop has meant that video is killing the TV rather than the radio star.”


I have two sisters, an internist and a pharmacist, both of whom have worked through major changes in their profession. I would pose the question not as “What about optometry,” but “What about physicians”?

In his article “Artificial intelligence will put a premium on physicians’ knowledge and decision-making skills” ( ), Dr. Marschall S. Runge writes, “Artificial intelligence is the latest in a long line of breakthroughs that have made it possible for caregivers to better diagnose and treat illness.”

The slit lamp certainly did not replace O.D.s; it simply improved our ability to solve our patients’ problems. The OCT has given us so much information, that I long for new and improved algorithms that can give me better information that I can then use to better care for my patients.


So here is the April Jasper view of the future of optometry: Our success depends on our ability and willingness to embrace technology as a means to improve the accuracy and efficiency of our exams, and then as a means to communicate with patients in such a way that they continue to have excellent patient outcomes. The human eye is too complex for any machine to detect, diagnose and treat every possible problem, while also meeting the patient’s emotional needs as required for excellent outcomes.

In my opinion, video did not kill the radio star, and technology will not eliminate the need for the human touch. Join me in my mission to continue to search for knowledge, continue to innovate but most of all, continue to really care for our patients in the practice of optometry. OM


Twitter: @DrAprilJasper

Facebook: @OptometricManagement