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Research Highlights Potential Benefits of Telemedicine in Treating Eye Disease
Date:11/12/2007

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Two studies being presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's 2007 Annual Meeting suggest that telemedicine may have a significant role to play in the diagnosis of eye diseases, increased patient compliance and patient access to quality care.

In the first study, researchers examined the impact that telemedicine had on patients with diabetes being treated in multi-physician primary care practice. The study looked at the number of patients with diabetes over the course of a year who had the recommended retinal examination before the installation of a telemedicine remote imaging system in the practice versus the number of patients with diabetes who had a retinal examination in the two years following installation of the device.

"In the past, it has been shown that telemedicine is technically possible, but this study demonstrates the true impact of a telemedicine system on the number of patients with diabetes who end up having an evaluation for diabetic retinopathy," said Ingrid Zimmer-Galler, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "With this system, we've dramatically increased the rate of annual retinal evaluations."

In the first year, out of 1,257 diabetic patients in the study, only 15 percent had a retinal examination. Two years after implementation of the telemedicine system, 71 percent of the 1,395 diabetic patients in the practice had a retinal examination. Significantly, of the observed increase, 66 percent was due to an eye examination by a local ophthalmologist and only 33 percent was due to remote evaluation.

"It's very nice to see that increased rate of evaluations was not solely because these patients were undergoing remote imaging," said Dr. Zimmer- Galler. "It shows that by having this type of system in place, overall awareness of the problem increased and had a beneficial affect on all patients."

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SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology
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