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

ased awareness of the need for regular eye examinations by people with diabetics is important because of compliance issues among diabetics and the growing number of people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy affects an estimated 5.3 million people in the United States, as many as one-third of whom are unaware of their illness. People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to go blind than people who do not have the disease. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy significantly increases the chances of avoiding vision loss.

"There's been a tremendous push to raise diabetic retinopathy awareness and the need for regular eye examinations, but few other programs have demonstrated such a positive impact on overall rates of evaluation for diabetic retinopathy," said Dr. Zimmer-Galler.

Offering Quality Care to Premature Infants

In a second study presented at the annual meeting, researchers concluded that there was a high level of agreement between diagnoses of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) made in low birth-weight babies using ophthalmoscopy and image-based telemedicine examinations.

"The number of premature infants is increasing throughout the world, and a larger percentage of them are surviving," said Michael Chiang, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology and biomedical informatics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and presenting author of the paper. "The challenge is how do we make good care accessible to these babies. The purpose of this study was to see how well the results of telemedicine compared to those of an ophthalmoscopic examination."

Doctors at Columbia gathered data on 206 eyes from 67 prematurely born infants, performing up to two sets of examinations on each baby. In each instance, a pediatric ophthalmologist performed dilated indirect ophthalmoscopy on the infant to determine whether the baby had ROP. Diagnoses were classified in four categories: no ROP, mild ROP, type 2 prethres
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SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology
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