While most people are familiar with Wikipedia, many are not aware that it is but one of many “wikis” — online encyclopedias open to anyone to create, add to and edit reference work. As of this month, another wiki will join those ranks — EyeWiki, a new ophthalmologic wiki project sponsored by the Academy, in close collaboration with several subspecialty and specialized interest societies. What makes the EyeWiki unique is that the material created within it is entirely produced by ophthalmologists, with a number of young ophthalmologists as the helm.
The Birth of an Idea
According to EyeWiki editor-in-chief Aaron Miller, MD, “The concept of creating an eye wiki was initially recommended during a YO committee meeting over one year ago by the current YO Committee chair, Andy Doan, MD.”
Dr. Miller says the wiki was one of several online ideas discussed by the committee at the time, another of which contributed to the development of the Academy Online Community. “We recognized that the Internet was where people go to obtain information and socialize with others,” Dr. Miller said.
The YOs saw that medium as rich with opportunities to create content as well. As the EyeWiki’s deputy editor-in-chief, YO Brad Feldman, MD, says, “The EyeWiki is to ophthalmology textbooks what Wikipedia is to encyclopedias. With the active participation from the ophthalmology community worldwide, EyeWiki will become representative of the summed knowledge of an entire field of clinicians, researchers and surgeons. It will be the ultimate living textbook of our field.”
After the initial idea was floated at the YO Committee meeting, it eventually reached the Academy Social Media Task Force consideration. Thanks to the support of leaders like Ruth Williams, MD, the Academy’s 2011 candidate for president-elect, many of the YO Committee recommendations have become a reality.
The EyeWiki Team
After securing formal approval last year, work on the EyeWiki began in earnest in January, led by Drs. Miller and Feldman. Working with many Academy staff members, they developed the organizational structure of the project. “Each section has its own editorial board, lead by the section editor,” Dr. Feldman explains.
“Each board has seven to nine ophthalmologists who have selected and produced around 100 articles to seed the project prior to launch. Post-launch, Dr. Miller and I will encourage ophthalmologists to participate in EyeWiki, as well as help the editorial boards monitor the creation of new content.”
Nominees for the EyeWiki section editors were solicited from subspecialty and specialized interest societies. The final group includes:
- Natalie A. Afshari, MD (Refractive)
- Penny A. Asbell, MD (Cornea)
- K. David Epley, MD (Pediatric Ophthalmology)
- Edmond J. FitzGibbon, MD (Neuro-Ophthalmology)
- Marcus M. Marcet, MD (Oculoplastics)
- Russell W. Read, MD, PhD (Uveitis)
- Sarwat Salim, MD (Glaucoma)
- Vinay A. Shah, MD (Retina)
- Richard G. Shugarman, MD (Cataract)
While the content on EyeWiki can be created and expanded by any ophthalmologist, these section editors will periodically review the material posted, supervised by Drs. Miller and Feldman.
What EyeWiki Means for You
EyeWiki has a myriad of benefits. First and foremost, it is a great resource tool for ophthalmologists and other physicians. As Dr. Miller says, “Residents and fellows can use the site to serve as a reference during grand rounds presentations. During this process, we hope that they will contribute material to new, yet to be created topics.”
Additionally, Dr. Feldman sees benefits for his patients. “I’ve already started telling patients that they will be able to read more about their conditions on EyeWiki,” he says. While the Academy’s EyeSmart™ public awareness campaign and website, www.geteyesmart.org, provide a more basic overview of conditions and eye health topics, the EyeWiki is meant to be a more in-depth resource, serving both the knowledge-hungry patient and the physician. And the EyeWiki is not just a resource for information, but a chance to get more involved with the Academy.
Join the EyeWiki Team
YOs are perfect participants in the EyeWiki, according to Dr. Feldman. “Most of us have the Internet at our fingertips, making it easy to access the vast amount of information which will be readily available on EyeWiki,” he says. “Any YO can register and then add new articles or make edits to enhance existing articles. It’s easy to add photographs of conditions we see in clinic or surgical videos from the OR.”
Dr. Miller seconds this. “We actually are depending on YOs’ involvement for the project’s success,” he says. “Once you create your own topic page within the EyeWiki, you become a founding author to that page. You can then add this to your CV and potentially become a leader within the EyeWiki community.”
Drs. Miller and Feldman both agree that YOs will be one of the primary driving forces behind the success of EyeWiki and will lead the charge on this Academy project. So what are you waiting for? Visit the EyeWiki today to learn more. If you have questions about getting involved, you can contact Drs. Miller and Feldman through the Academy Online Community.
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About the author: Kimberly Day is a freelance health writer and medical editor and a frequent contributor to YO Info. She is the co-author of Hormone Revolution and ghost writer of Eat Papayas Naked.