A survey of ophthalmologists conducted by Wills Eye Hospital and Ocular Surgery News uncovered current realities and forward-looking trends in the field of ophthalmology.
"The survey data confirmed many of the assumptions that ophthalmologists may already have based on their experience, and it exposed the top-of-mind trends in our field," said Dr. Julia Haller, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye Hospital. "We look forward to seeing how these trends play out in the coming year."
More than 200 ophthalmologists responded to the survey. Among the results were four key takeaways with big implications for ophthalmologists and other eye care specialists.
For Patients, Preventative Eye Care is Not a Priority
According to the results, most patients do not seek preventative eye care treatment and only visit an eye care specialist when they have a specific problem. Only 10 percent of respondents said that patients were very proactive in seeking preventative care for their eye health, and only 7.2 percent of respondents said patients come in without an existing, serious eye concern.
Reputation Generates Referrals
The majority of survey respondents (53.9 percent) identified ranking clinical specialty expertise as the most important factor in where they refer patients. Additionally, the individual reputation of specialists carries more weight than overall eye care institutional reputation as patients and ophthalmologists want referrals to institutions with high levels of clinical expertise from well-regarded clinical specialists.
Telemedicine is Trending
The majority of ophthalmologists surveyed believe that providing health care virtually with the help of technology will become increasingly popular in the next several years. While only 3.2 percent of ophthalmologists surveyed reported very frequent use of telemedicine, 61.8 percent agreed that it would have a larger role in the future.
The Role of Genetics is Changing
Many of the ophthalmologists surveyed (33.6 percent) believe that the role of genetics in clinical practice will be the biggest change to eye care in the next five years. Meanwhile, only 2.9 percent of survey respondents cited the role of artificial intelligence or machine learning as a major change to eye care in the immediate future.
"As leaders in the field of ophthalmology, we prioritize continuous advancement and staying on top of what matters to physicians," said Joe Bilson, Wills Eye Hospital CEO. "We want to better understand and help patients better understand the importance of ophthalmology to overall health and wellness."