While I’m writing a daily feed for my Instagram collection of eye cases (@bow_teye, in case you’re not yet following!), I’m always surprised how my little iPhone knows what I’m likely to type in next. “This sweet…” I start, and instantly it suggests that “little dog” will be my next words. It just shows, I guess, how frequently that phrase comes up. If I write, “You might think the grey lens here suggests cataract, but in fact it is…”, the device comes up with “nuclear sclerosis”. Quite correct, but only because I do post about a fair few cases of nuclear sclerosis, as many vets still mistake this for overt cataract. But recently, artificial intelligence (AI) does seem to have taken a real leap forward.
Have you tried ChatGPT? It’s a quite remarkable bit of computing software and a potentially great advance in accessing and presenting the huge amount of data on the internet. But it’s also a rather worrying step when you look at possible student use to produce essays and even exam answers that look great but circumvent the students having to learn anything. Let me illustrate.
[ChatGPT is] a quite remarkable bit of computing software and a potentially great advance in accessing and presenting the huge amount of data on the internet. But it’s also a rather worrying step
Here’s a potential short answer question for our final-year students’ exam: A beagle is presented to you as a veterinarian with a blind painful red eye with a dilated pupil. What is the most likely diagnosis, and how would you test for it? This is what ChatGPT came up with in less than a minute:
“Based on the clinical signs presented, the most likely diagnosis for the beagle is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition where there is increased pressure within the eye, leading to optic nerve damage and vision loss.
“To test for glaucoma, a veterinarian may perform a series of diagnostic tests, including tonometry, ophthalmoscopy and gonioscopy. Tonometry is a test that measures the pressure within the eye, using a special instrument that touches the surface of the eye to take the measurement. Ophthalmoscopy is an examination of the inside of the eye using a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope, which allows the veterinarian to visualise the optic nerve and look for signs of damage. Gonioscopy is a test that examines the drainage angle of the eye, to determine if there are any abnormalities that may be contributing to the increased pressure.
“In addition to these tests, the veterinarian may also perform a complete physical examination and blood work to rule out any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to the glaucoma. Treatment for glaucoma typically involves reducing the intraocular pressure through medications, surgery, or a combination of both, depending on the severity and cause of the condition. However, if the eye has already suffered irreparable damage, it may need to be surgically removed to prevent further pain and discomfort for the dog.”
ChatGPT has picked up most of the marks there, I think, though I might have wanted a bit more detail on methods of tonometry or treatment options.
When I asked it to expand on these two areas, here’s what it came up with:
“There are several different methods of tonometry that can be used in dogs, including applanation tonometry, rebound tonometry and indentation tonometry.
“Applanation tonometry is the most commonly used method in veterinary practice, and it involves using a small instrument called a tonometer to gently touch the surface of the cornea and measure the force needed to flatten it. The amount of force required is proportional to the intraocular pressure (IOP) within the eye.
“Rebound tonometry is a newer technique that uses a small, handheld device to emit a probe that bounces off the cornea and measures the speed and trajectory of the rebound. The IOP is then calculated based on the measurement of the rebound.
“Indentation tonometry involves using a blunt instrument to apply pressure to the cornea and measure the depth of the indentation that is created. The IOP can then be estimated based on the amount of pressure needed to create the indentation.
“In dogs, normal IOP ranges from 10 to 25 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). However, the normal range may vary depending on factors such as breed, age, and overall health of the dog. A tonometry reading that is consistently higher than the normal range may indicate the presence of glaucoma or other ocular diseases, and prompt treatment is needed to prevent vision loss and alleviate pain and discomfort.“
What will ChatGPT say, then, if I ask, “What medical treatments are there for canine glaucoma, and how do they work?” Its reply:
“There are several medical treatments available for canine glaucoma, and the choice of treatment depends on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. The goal of medical treatment is to reduce the in IOP within the eye and alleviate the associated pain and discomfort. Some of the most common medical treatments for canine glaucoma include:
- “Topical medications: These are eye drops or ointments that are applied directly to the eye and work by decreasing the production of aqueous humour, the fluid that fills the inside of the eye, or by increasing its outflow. Some examples of topical medications used in dogs include carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, beta blockers and prostaglandin analogs
- Oral medications: These are medications that are taken orally and work by decreasing the production of aqueous humour or by increasing its outflow. Oral medications are usually used in combination with topical medications for more effective IOP control
- Intravenous medications: These are medications that are given by injection, and they are used in severe cases of glaucoma to rapidly lower the IOP. Some examples of intravenous medications used in dogs include mannitol and acetazolamide
- Laser therapy: Laser therapy involves using a special type of laser to create tiny holes in the iris of the eye, which allows for increased outflow of aqueous humour and decreased IOP
- Surgery: Surgery is usually reserved for cases of glaucoma that are unresponsive to medical therapy, or for dogs that have severe pain and discomfort that cannot be managed with medications. There are several surgical procedures available for the treatment of canine glaucoma, including cycloablation, trabeculectomy and shunt placement”
This answer’s not perfect in that oral medications aren’t really used these days, trabeculectomy is used in people, not dogs, and laser therapy doesn’t make holes in the iris… but all told, not a bad attempt! OK, you might say that’s a very clever way of presenting material out there on the internet, but it’s no more than that. So, what about asking ChatGPT to write a poem on glaucoma?
OK, you might say that’s a very clever way of presenting material out there on the internet, but it’s no more than that. So, what about asking ChatGPT to write a poem on glaucoma?
Here’s what it came up with in just a few seconds:
“In canine eyes, a silent threat looms near,
A pressure builds within, too great to bear,
The vision fades, the pain becomes severe,
And glaucoma takes hold, without a care.
The beagle’s eye, once bright and filled with life,
Now clouded, red, and painfully dilated,
The iris, once a thing of beauty rife,
Now bears the mark of a disease fated.
But still, there’s hope, with treatment and with care,
The pressure can be eased, the pain can wane,
And vision may return, a brighter glare,
A chance to see the world once more, untamed.
Oh canine glaucoma, foe of the eye,
May science find a cure, and see you die.“
Now that is impressive, don’t you think?!
So how can you be sure that I haven’t had the whole of this article written by ChatGPT? The obvious way to check is to ask the AI platform how to differentiate between a piece written by a real person and one written by itself. The answer came back in an instant – first, note a personal touch. ChatGPT can’t do that at the moment, yet I could well believe that it won’t be long before something trying to emulate that is added. So, for the moment, the first sentence of this article gives the game away that I am human!
When I asked it whether it ever felt proud or humble, it did admit to having no human characteristics or traits. Though when I read that poem, ChatGPT could have fooled me!
Repetition and a highly consistent writing style are two other features ChatGPT admits to, as well as a lack of errors… and maybe a lack of humility too? When I asked it whether it ever felt proud or humble, it did admit to having no human characteristics or traits. Though when I read that poem, ChatGPT could have fooled me!