Social networking websites such as MySpace are the rage with web-crawlers, but what if you wanted to network specifically with fellow ophthalmologists? The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery is hoping to be able to provide that service to its members with its new networking site, Here is a look at what features are currently available on the site, due to launch in late May, and ones which the site's creators hope to offer in the future.

ASCRS would like to see EyeSpaceMD be an educational hub where physicians can share their techniques for overcoming clinical and surgical challenges in a more streamlined way than is currently available through ASCRS' generic post-and-respond message boards.

"The new forum will be a Web 2.0-based platform," says Fayetteville, Ark., surgeon James McDonald, who edits ASCRS' cataract and refractive forums and helped develop EyeSpaceMD. Web 2.0 refers to the Internet-design movement aimed at making sites easier to use for collaborating with other users. "So, you will be able to attach things to your forum replies, such as a movie. I think it will also be more powerful in terms of searching the forum for previous threads on a topic." EyeSpace also has a section of clinical images, as well as a section of videos, which includes surgical how-to films as well as entire presentations that were given at the most recent ASCRS meeting. Dr. McDonald adds that another section, termed Documents, will eventually contain things such as operation permission slips and informed consent forms. These documents will be provided by surgeons for their colleagues' use.

EyeSpaceMD allows surgeons to share images, such as this image of congenital cataract posted to the site by Daljit Singh, MD, of Amritsar, India.

What may eventually make the site unique is the social networking side, driven by individual ASCRS member profiles. "The profiles have fields for your biography, hobbies, clinical and non-clinical interests, photos and videos," explains Dr. McDonald. "I think the site will develop a social side that will really be nice, where there will be pages on common interests, such as photography or flying, or pages for different regions of the country. For instance, it will be easier for people who own surgery centers to develop their own area where they can interact. Another example might be a group of doctors who are interested in doing public-service work or teaching, either locally or internationally. These once-fragmented pieces may find a way to come together and accelerate a process that may have been slow before."

Ultimately, Dr. McDonald thinks the site may facilitate the process of global networking that many physicians already engage in sporadically at meetings. "I feel that my life is so busy right now that a lot of my social needs come through my work in ophthalmology," he says. "Some of my best friends aren't people who live in my town but are those whom I've met through ophthalmology, some of them even from other countries.

"Some of this will take some evolution," he continues. "It will take members some time of living with EyeSpace to get a feel for how to make it work best."