Three vision trends that are changing the healthcare industry

The eye is a window into full-body health and new technology-driven shifts are underscoring the role that vision care plays in a person’s ability to be and stay healthy.

At SXSW 2024, VSP Vision’s Global Innovation Center, along with its partners, spotlighted 10 vision trends transforming healthcare, introducing several startups emblematic of the forces shaping the industry’s future. Here’s a look at three of those trends.

Trend #1: The eye is the window into full-body health

The eye has always been a window into overall health and wellness. An eye exam provides doctors a way to look at a nerve, artery or vein without an invasive procedure, giving providers valuable insights into more than just a patient’s eye health.

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have expanded what can be detected during a patient’s eye exam, including signs of cardiovascular and kidney disease, diabetes, neurological issues and other disease states.

AI startups elevating the eye’s role in disease detection include RetiSpec, which uses advanced AI to identify early signs of Alzheimer’s, and Toku Eyes, which has developed software to assess heart risk through a retinal scan.

Trend #2: New screening modalities improve access to care

Nearly one-third of the U.S. population (121 million) lives in a healthcare desert, an area with insufficient access to primary care providers, eye care providers, pharmacies, hospitals, community health centers or more.

From vision screening stations to handheld auto-refractors, next generation devices are scaling access to eye care, particularly within healthcare deserts. EyeCheq is a fully automated eye health kiosk delivering four self-serve tests, including scans for diabetic retinopathy and visual acuity.

And, as healthcare more often spans virtual, at-home and hybrid care settings, these new technologies enable vision care to seamlessly integrate into the industry’s models of primary care.

Trend #3: Can eye care be an early adopter of Generative AI?

Generative AI is poised to unleash the next wave of productivity, potentially adding trillions of dollars in value to the global economy. While the technology is beginning to demonstrate how it can reimagine healthcare in new and exciting ways, from easing administrative burdens to accelerating clinical trials, mass applications are yet to be seen.

There are already several instances of Generative AI in eye care, including scaling readings of retinal scans, positioning vision health to play the role of early adopter and helping establish a bridge to industry-wide deployment.

For more about the current trends and startups behind Generative AI’s possibilities and potential, download the Global Innovation Center’s Future of Generative AI in Healthcare Futurist Report.

Download the Future Eye: 10 Vision Trends That Will Transform Healthcare for the full list of trends here and for more on the latest in vision innovation, visit

About VSP Vision’s Global Innovation Center:
At VSP Vision, our purpose is to empower human potential through sight. As the first national not-for-profit vision benefits company, this is what drives everything we do. For nearly 70 years, VSP has been the leader in health-focused vision care, providing affordable access to eye care and eyewear for more than 85 million members through a network of more than 41,000 doctors. The Global Innovation Center is VSP Vision’s lens into the future. Through emerging technologies, new business exploration, and strategic connections within the innovation ecosystem, the Global Innovation Center is VSP Vision’s hub for reimagining the way eye care and eyewear are delivered to the world. Learn more about how we’re reinvesting in greater vision, health, and opportunities for all at