Advances in science and medicine are collaborative efforts. While there are household names that tower over respective disciplines, the majority of progress is made quietly and incrementally. Collaborating and sharing information allows for the rapid development of medical treatments and improves global medical potential. When you combine the unrealized power of crowdsourcing with the information dissemination capabilities of the internet, magic can happen.
A fine example of that magic is IOLCon: an online treasure trove of a database, abounding with information on everything to do with intraocular lenses (IOLs). Ophthalmic surgeons can access the database free of charge and can count on reliable data to best optimize their practices.
So, in short, IOLCon is pretty cool. Let’s check out how it started and how it works.
IOLs go back a while: The first IOL was implanted in 1949. Getting precise measurements is crucial to getting IOLs correct, and there have been many developments along the way. In the early 1980s, for example, Professor Adolf F. Fercher (Vienna, Austria) published research that revolutionized the way the length of the eye was measured using optical coherence tomography. This resulted in the production of the first IOLMaster (Carl Zeiss Meditec, Jena, Germany) in 1999, which allowed for reproducible diagnoses of eyes.
In order to have a broad set of data, a biometry database needed to exist. Professor Wolfgang Haigis of University Würzburg (Germany) created the User Group for Laser Interference Biometry (ULIB) which was the first biometry database of its kind and represented significant progress in information availability. However, it did not offer an open interface and worked only with the Zeiss IOLMaster.
So, Professor Achim Langenbucher (Saarland University, Germany) saw the next logical step: To create a database open to all surgeons and biometer makers. He began the development of this database in 2015, and it became what it is today: IOLCon.
How does IOLCon Work?
IOLCon is an open-source database that relies on XML. IOL manufacturers or distributors upload information about their IOLs while ophthalmic surgeons can upload pre- and postoperative results.
Surgeons can then use this database to optimize data for their surgeries. They can use broad data to assess the correct IOL for a patient based on their biometry or ethnicity, for example. IOLCon describes their method as “Intelligent IOL Constant Optimization” using statistical methods to make the best choices. Both global data and data for and from individual surgeons are available — the latter of which helps surgeons to optimize their own operations.
The data’s reliability is guaranteed because all users must be registered — so the data is traceable and accountable to the uploader. This guarantees high-quality data, which is a must.
Users can search the database with a variety of parameters, including IOL/biometer manufacturer, materials, geometries and available IOL powers. It can be downloaded onto a local hard drive or printed as necessary.
More than just Baby Steps
Cataract surgeons will be pleased to hear that IOLCon has quickly grown, and provides a wealth of resources. How much, you ask? As of July, 2020, the database boasts information on 414 IOL models from 28 manufacturers, as well as 19,000 bits of clinical data and optimizations for 105 different IOL models.
As the database continues to grow — and is continuously updated — even more data will come flooding in. The more information available, the better. As a collaborative effort, and as more surgeons and manufacturers hop on board, the data will turn into a torrent of information.
Surgeons who count on reliable measurements and information will have a powerful tool at their disposal to help them make the right decisions. And that will lead to superior patient outcomes. After all, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
For further information, visit iolcon.org.