What is the future of big data in eye treatment?

Adrian O’Dowd looks at how large-scale, digitised and sophisticated data in optometry is helping to improve care.

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Practitioners and patients are increasingly seeing benefits from “big data” – extremely large datasets analysed by computers to reveal patterns, trends and associations.

Big data is measured in petabytes (one million gigabytes) or exabytes (one billion gigabytes), and its diverse range of content is harvested from sources including biobanks, administrative databases and biometric information from wearable devices such as smart watches – all presented in various formats for different purposes, including administration, clinical care or research. In addition to its vast size and variety, big data is characterised by the speed at which it continually grows, its accuracy, and its ultimate value.

The true value of big data is revealed in its study of change in clinical outcomes, behavioural modification and improvements in workflow (Panesar, 2019).

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