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The Pink Eye

Have you ever had the pink eye? Hopefully not, but surely we have all treated patients with this annoying, often contagious condition that underscores the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment. On a recent morning, my wife told me she woke up with the pink eye. Oh yes, the horrifying, all-encompassing term for every disease that could ever cause redness in the eye. I asked her about her symptoms, and she mentioned that her eyes were itchy and crusty.

I evaluated her eyes from the across the room (I didn’t want to catch it) and diagnosed her with acute conjunctivitis. She asked what could be done about it, and I told her that it all depends and that she would have to come into the office to get the pink eye test to determine the best course of treatment.

Of course, I could have given my best guess using the traditional symptom questions about watery eyes and itchiness (viral) or mucus (bacterial), and by looking at her ocular findings. I would have a 50% chance of being right, but what if I was wrong in a case that could be contagious? Why do I need point-of-care immunoassay tests to determine the treatment?

Advances in eye care diagnostics are changing the way we practice. We have more information at our disposal than ever before thanks to point-of-care testing and innovative diagnostic technologies, each of which improve our clinical decision-making. Regardless of your passion or specialty, the use of technology benefits our patients by allowing us to more accurately diagnose their conditions with increased sensitivity and specificity.

One of the hottest topics in eye care (though I may be biased) is ocular surface disease, for which point-of-care diagnostic tests such as meibography, tear film osmolarity, and matrix-metalloproteinase testing, provide objective data to guide our treatment. For glaucoma, we still rely on traditional tests such as visual fields and OCT, but consider the impacts that some newer objective tests (eg, corneal hysteresis and pattern electroretinogram) can provide. OCT is often used in the retina sector of eye care to evaluate macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, but imagine what we can do with even more information from OCT angiography, flicker electroretinography, and dark adaptation.

In this issue’s CE section, we dive into many of these diagnostic technologies that can help us improve patient care, and this is just the beginning. Before we know it, artificial intelligence will take our advanced diagnostics and treatments to a new level. What we do with this information will be up to us.

By the way, my wife did have the pink eye—just not the contagious kind.

Best regards,

— Walter Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO

Co-Chief Medical Editor