Teleophthalmology Screening for Early Detection of Ocular Diseases in Underserved Populations in Israel

Nir Gomel, Nur Azem, Tzidkiyahu Baruch, Nadine Hollander, Rony Rachmiel, Shimon Kurtz, Michael Waisbourd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of an innovative telemedicine community-based intervention to increase detection of previously undiagnosed ocular diseases in high-risk populations in Israel. Methods: A team comprising an ocular technician, a project manager, and a driver was sent to underserved areas in Israel. Patient demographics, ocular, and medical information were recorded. Visual acuity (VA), intraocular pressure and fundus photographs were obtained. The data were transferred to the Ophthalmology Reading Center in Tel-Aviv Medical Center, where it was interpreted by an ophthalmologist. A letter was sent to the patients indicating examination results. It instructed them to return for a follow-up examination if indicated. Results: A total of 124 individuals underwent telemedicine remote screening examinations in 10 locations. The mean age was 79.9 ± 7.2 years, with female predominance of 67%. The major pathologies detected were (1) reduction in VA >6/12 in at least one eye (n = 48, 38.7%); (2) glaucoma suspicion in the optic disk (n = 18, 14.5%); (3) ocular hypertension >21 mmHg (n = 15, 12.1%); (4) age-related macular degeneration (AMD; n = 15, 12.1%); (5) diabetic retinopathy (n = 6, 4.8%); (6) visually significant cataract (n = 6, 4.8%); and (7) other pathologies (n = 11, 8.9%); 97.7% of the patients reported high satisfaction rates (they were satisfied or very satisfied from the project model). Conclusions: Our pilot telemedicine screening project effectively detected ocular diseases in underserved areas in Israel and helped improve access to eye care. This project has the potential of reaching a national level, allow for early diagnosis, and prevent vision loss and blindness in underserved areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalTelemedicine Journal and e-Health
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • e-Health
  • global health
  • ophthalmology
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

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