Oct. 17, 2010 Like the rest of society, medicine increasingly relies on digital systems and mobile devices to manage work flow and enhance communications. Eye M.D.s (ophthalmologists) routinely evaluate internet-transmitted images of patients' eyes as part of diagnosis and treatment. Usually images are viewed at computer workstations with standard display screens. University of Pittsburg School of Medicine researchers wondered whether handheld devices like the iPhone would work equally well.
In the study, Eye M.D.s from the University of Pittsburg Eye Center evaluated three aspects of diabetic retinopathy, a potentially blinding disease that affects many people with diabetes, by reviewing both the standard computer monitor and iPhone images for 55 patients (110 eyes). The doctors then made recommendations for follow up treatment.
"We found high consistency-more than 85 percent agreement-between evaluations based on the standard computer monitor and on the iPhone for all image sections tested," said Dr. Michael J. Pokabla. "There were no significant differences between evaluations and recommendations using the two systems, and the doctors rated the iPhone images as excellent. We conclude that mobile devices like the iPhone can be used to evaluate ophthalmic images," he added.
No Eye M.D. in the House? Videoconferencing Brings the Expert to the Outback When no ophthalmologist is available on site, some emergency rooms (ERs) in remote medical centers in rural Australia now use videoconferencing to receive diagnosis and treatment advice for their eye injury and ophthalmic illness patients.
A telecommunication link at a major metropolitan teaching eye hospital, the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH), is connected with four ERs that serve large regions of rural Australia. Dr. Christolyn Raj and her team studied the effectiveness of this approach by reviewing the initial six months of RVEEH videoconference interactions with the regional ERs.
Diagnoses were altered in approximately 60 percent of cases and management plans were changed in about 70 percent of cases following videoconference consultations, study results show. The average consultation time was 10 minutes.
"Videoconferencing is a sustainable, effective way of providing prompt eye management advice to rural emergency doctors," Dr. Raj said. "Although it can never replace face to face clinical care, it is a useful tool to have at one's fingertips and its use will undoubtedly increase in coming years," she added.
This research was presented at the 2010 American Academy of Ophthalmology -- Middle East-Africa Council of Ophthalmology Joint Meeting. The AAO-MEACO meeting is in session Oct. 16-19 in Chicago.
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