New year, new gadget

How will technology help us to achieve our goals in 2018?


There is nothing quite like the thrill of a new toy. Ask my twin brother, who at the age of six woke up my parents at 3am on Christmas morning with the dulcet tones of his new ukulele. They found him sitting by the Christmas tree surrounded by a sea of wrapping paper, having opened not only his own presents, but everyone else’s as well.

Whether the joy of a new toy is found in a child, slightly delirious with happiness on Christmas morning, or a young-at-heart adult ‘helping’ a niece or nephew get to grips with the latest craze, the thrill of new technology crosses the boundaries of age and experience.

As we enter 2018, technology can also act as a digital helping hand to achieve goals in the coming year. There are apps to improve time management, boost fitness and manage finances.

In an eye health context, technology can help practitioners to expand their professional horizons and perform existing tasks more efficiently. OT profiles technology that is creating opportunities for the optical workforce in the January edition. 

Technology holds great potential for people living with sight loss. Next week, Samsung will release smart glasses that can act as an aid for people with visual impairment at CES 2018.

The contribution of artificial intelligence to the healthcare sector is also making headway. Scientists have reported in JAMA that a deep learning system can detect referable diabetic retinopathy with an accuracy of approximately 90%. 

As technology plays an increasing role in our lives, it pays to remember that a machine is only as good as the clinician behind the button. Technology may be able to process and analyse data faster and more efficiently than a human, but a machine does not know how to read the subtleties of body language so the right questions are asked and results are communicated in a way that is understood.

Machines do not remember how someone likes their tea, what sport a patient’s grandchild plays or what football team they support. These details may not be directly relevant to the task at hand but they are the lifeblood of practice because patients will always return to a place that feels a little bit like home.