I came across the info graphic below that illustrates how our world is changing today. It summarizes six driving forces of change in today's world, and predicts ten important skills that we need to possess in the near future. What does this mean for ocularistry?
The Six Driving Forces of Change
EXTREME LONGEVITY: People Are Living Longer
This population includes the patients we see. Our eyes deteriorate as we get older, but people are living longer. Ocularists must be proficient at managing socket changes related to the aging process.
RISE OF SMART MACHINES AND SYSTEMS and COMPUTATIONAL WORLD
These two points indicate the rapid progression of technology today. With "smarter" machines and greater processing power, machines are able to take over quantifiable and repeatable tasks. Only several years ago the majority of ocularists hand-paint the irises. Today, digitally printed irises can be purchased at the semi-annual ASO meetings. The quality and quantity of these digital irises are only increasing, and an industrial design firm in England (Fripp Design) is already printing 3D stock eye shapes in full color.
As sensors and processing power continues to increase while their physical sizes decrease, it becomes possible for a microprocessor to fit into the space available inside a prosthetic eye. In addition to fulfilling the fundamental criteria of comfort, fit, and aesthetics, the future will demand artificial eyes to serve additional functions such as monitoring health and providing the patients feedback about visual information. Even the most qualified ocularist will need to collaborate with researchers to meet these demands.
NEW MEDIA ECOLOGY, SUPERSTRUCTURED ORGANIZATIONS, and GLOBALLY CONNECTED WORLD
Collaborating with a team of experts are becoming easier as new communication structures emerge and people are connected globally. The same communication structures can be utilized to communicate with our patients around the clock.
Important Job Skills for the Future Ocularist
The six driving forces listed above dictate a new set of important work skills that tomorrow's ocularists must acquire. Important skills for the future ocularist include:
NOVEL AND ADAPTIVE THINKING, TRANSDISCIPLINARY, DESIGN MINDSET
The future ocularist must be able to identify new problems in their field and construct creative solutions. Ocularists must broaden knowledge across disciplines because their professional colleagues will gradually include advance experts from seemingly unrelated disciplines.
CROSS-CULTURAL COMPETENCY, NEW MEDIA LITERACY, VIRTUAL COLLABORATION
As ocularists collaborate with professionals across distance, they need to demonstrate competency as a member of a virtual team. When ocularists are able to provide remote care to the patients, they should be conscientious of other cultures.
What Does The Future Hold For Ocularists?
As we look at driving forces of change and consider the new skills that the future ocularist must acquire, we will see ocularistry change in the following ways:
- It won't be long before custom eyes can be 3D printed at a satisfactory level. In the future, the process of impressioning and fitting may become entirely non-invasive.
- Ocularists will assume a more involved role in the development process of a multi-functional prosthetic eye.
- Ocularists will be able to reach out to a broader audience, raising awareness about eye loss and demystifying the public's misconceptions about prosthetic eyes.
- Patients will become more engaged in managing their own health care routine.