“Big Data” in Ophthalmology Clarifies Epidemiology of Rare Eye Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeffrey R. Willis, MD, PhD University of California Davis Eye Center Sacramento, CA

Dr. Jeffrey Willis

Jeffrey R. Willis, MD, PhD

University of California Davis Eye Center
Sacramento, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

: The goal of this study was to understand how “Big Data” in ophthalmology could be utilized to assess the prevalence of rare diseases such as myopic choroidal neovascularization (mCNV).

Prior to our study, there was limited knowledge on the burden of this devastating condition as previous estimates were done more than 20 years ago, had a small sample size, and were not generalizable to the current U.S. population. In order to address this knowledge gap, we realized the potential of two large datasets with ophthalmic information, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the IRIS Registry. The former provides nationally representative data, but with limited ophthalmic disease information. The latter dataset, supported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), is the nation’s only comprehensive database of ophthalmic patient outcomes. By triangulating data from the these two data sources in conjunction with population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, we were able to calculate the mCNV prevalence in the United States. Specifically, we showed that mCNV is a rare condition, affecting about 41,000 adult Americans, with a higher burden on women than men. This study effectively showed that using “Big Data” in ophthalmology could help us better understand the epidemiology of rare ophthalmic conditions in the US.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response:  I believe that this is an exciting time in ophthalmology as large datasets such as the IRIS Registry give us incredible research capabilities that were not present before. Utilizing such “Big Data” will help us more accurately understand the epidemiology of eye diseases and potentially improve public health outcomes.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: I believe that future research needs to better characterize the pros and cons of utilizing “Big Data” in ophthalmology so that we can become more proficient in utilizing it to promote public health outcomes. We are still in the very beginning stages of understanding the utility of large datasets in ophthalmology, and as more people utilize it as a research tool, the more capable we will become in applying it to promote better health outcomes in our patients.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


The Prevalence of Myopic Choroidal Neovascularization in the United States
Willis, Jeffrey R. et al.
Ophthalmology , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.04.021

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