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Studies in Dr. Michael Smolek’s laboratories are designed to develop ways to characterize the cornea in terms of its optical performance in the visual system. Dr. Stephen Klyce developed the original color-coded topographic mapping system at the Eye Center. Commercial versions of his system are in clinical use all over the world, particularly in the evaluation of candidates for refractive surgery, such as excimer laser photorefractive keratectomy.
His research is focused on development of a mathematical model to classify corneal shape anomalies and to assess the optical quality of the corneal surface. In his corneal hydration studies, a numerical model for the control of corneal hydration based on the principles of the thermodynamics of irreversible processes is being used to model the way the cornea responds to changes in its environment (in, for example, contact lens wear) in normal and pathologic states. Topographic evaluation studies involve the use of artificial intelligence methods (statistical and neural network analyses) to characterize corneal topography in normal and diseased corneas, and to use this new, objective methodology to identify specific pathologies and track their progression as a means to determine their natural history. Development of this model may lead to new methods for improved and more accurate assessment of the optical performance of the human eye and further progress toward the objective evaluation of the safety and efficacy of current and developing refractive surgical procedures and contact lenses.
Dr. Smolek is developing computer software tools with embedded artificial intelligence (AI) that can perform instantaneous, automated analysis and clinical interpretation of the human eye and cornea, identifying any abnormalities. AI-based tools such as Dr. Michael Smolek’s can assist vision scientists in efficiently developing study databases and analyzing aberration data. Clinicians can diagnose patients faster, more accurately, and with a greater degree of confidence. For patients, refractive surgery outcomes can be more predictable, and earlier detection of diseases such as cataracts and corneal ectasias can lead to more effective therapy.