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Metaverse and Virtual Health Care in Ophthalmology: Opportunities and Challenges


The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 has further increased the urgent need for digital transformation within the health care settings, with the use of artificial intelligence/deep learning, internet of things, telecommunication network/virtual platform, and blockchain. The recent advent of metaverse, an interconnected online universe, with the synergistic combination of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality described several years ago, presents a new era of immersive and real-time experiences to enhance human-to-human social interaction and connection. In health care and ophthalmology, the creation of virtual environment with three-dimensional (3D) space and avatar, could be particularly useful in patient-fronting platforms (eg, telemedicine platforms), operational uses (eg, meeting organization), digital education (eg, simulated medical and surgical education), diagnostics, and therapeutics. On the other hand, the implementation and adoption of these emerging virtual health care technologies will require multipronged approaches to ensure interoperability with real-world virtual clinical settings, user-friendliness of the technologies and clinical efficiencies while complying to the clinical, health economics, regulatory, and cybersecurity standards. To serve the urgent need, it is important for the eye community to continue to innovate, invent, adapt, and harness the unique abilities of virtual health care technology to provide better eye care worldwide.


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