Looking Into the Future: Retinal Scanning is Here for Better or for Worse

Pick your sci-fi futuristic fantasy film and you’ll see retinal scanning to get into every top secret, high security back room where all the nefarious machinations of a post-apocalyptic future are being orchestrated by the powerful elite. So, is that really science fiction fantasy, or is retinal scanning coming for our eyes right now…?

The idea for retinal scanning was first publicly floated in 1935 and was clearly way ahead of its time technologically speaking. The technology started to catch up in the mid-1970s, and the first commercial retinal scanner was patented in 1981.

While the use of retinal scanning has been largely limited to government and security agencies like the FBI, CIA, NASA, it’s clear the future of retinal scanning is much more broad in scope both potentially disconcerting and groundbreaking.

Retinal Fingerprints

Individual identification using fingerprints was revolutionary when the technique was finally perfected and paired with an extensive and technologically accessible enough database, but what if there were an even more accurate way to distinguish one person from another?

It turns out, retinal identification is approximately 20,000 times more accurate and secure than fingerprint identification. The distinctive arrangement of blood vessels is unique to every individual eye and remains constant through your entire life.

Retinal Scanning Uses

A cryptocurrency startup call Worldcoin has been making waves rolling out its iris scanning technology in Kenya in exchange for a bit of cryptocurrency. It’s difficult to pin down Worldcoin’s objective in this endeavor, but the data collection will be used to develop what the company describes as a new “global human identity and financial network.”

Unsurprisingly, privacy, security, and legal claims have been made enough to put a stop at least temporarily to the project in the short-term, but the collection and storing of vital personal information has always ruffled feathers.

With iris and retinal scanning on the rise, we can expect considerable scrutiny of the practice going forward.

Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons in Retinal Scanning

Paired with other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), retinal scanning has shown promise in helping doctors identify certain eye diseases, including very encouraging data showing the early detection of Parkinson’s Disease1.

Retinal imaging has been very successful in diagnosing a variety of eye concerns including diabetes-related macular edema, diabetes-related retinopathy, eye cancer, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and more. The problem arises when personal identification information is gathered and stored either with or without the patient’s knowledge.

For any new technology, especially one with such potential for widespread use and abuse, there will be a period of scrutiny and regulation before the science fiction becomes the reality. In the meantime, there is always a bit of fanfare as new tools come into use that can really help doctors achieve better health outcomes for their patients.


The Future is at Optical Expressions