Obtaining a clear assessment of the anterior segment is critical for disease diagnosis and management in ophthalmic telemedicine. The anterior segment can be imaged with slit lamp cameras, robotic remote controlled slit lamps, cell phones, cell phone adapters, digital cameras, and webcams, all of which can enable remote care. The ability of these devices to identify various ophthalmic diseases has been studied, including cataracts, as well as abnormalities of the ocular adnexa, cornea, and anterior chamber. This article reviews the current state of anterior segment imaging for the purpose of ophthalmic telemedical care.
Importance: Telemedicine has been shown to have had reduced uptake among historically marginalized populations within multiple medical specialties during the COVID-19 pandemic. An evaluation of health disparities among patients receiving ophthalmic telemedical care during the pandemic is needed. Objective: To evaluate disparities in the delivery of ophthalmic telemedicine at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective, cross-sectional study analyzed clinical visits at a single tertiary eye care center (MEE) from January 1 to December 31, 2020. Patients who had ophthalmology and optometry clinical visits at the MEE during the study period were included. Exposures: Telemedicine vs in-person clinical encounters. Main Outcomes and Measures: Variables associated with use of ophthalmic telemedicine during the study period. Results: A total of 2262 telemedicine ophthalmic encounters for 1911 patients were included in the analysis. The median age of the patients was 61 (interquartile range, 43-72) years, and 1179 (61.70%) were women. With regard to race and ethnicity, 87 patients (4.55%) identified as Asian; 128 (6.70%), as Black or African American; 23 (1.20%), as Hispanic or Latino; and 1455 (76.14%), as White. On multivariate analysis, factors associated with decreased receipt of telemedical care included male sex (odds ratio [OR], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.77-0.96), Black race (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.56-0.86), not speaking English (OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.48-0.81), educational level of high school or less (OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.71-0.97), and age (OR per year of age, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.989-0.998). When comparing telephone- and video-based telemedicine visits, decreased participation in video-based visits was associated with age (OR per year of age, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.98), educational level of high school or less (OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.29-0.99), being unemployed (OR, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.68), being retired (OR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.10-0.42), or having a disability (OR, 0.09; 95% CI, 0.04-0.23). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this cross-sectional study, though limited to retrospective data from a single university-based practice, suggest that historically marginalized populations were less likely to receive ophthalmic telemedical care compared with in-person care during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Understanding the causes of these disparities might help those who need access to virtual care.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is the leading cause of childhood blindness in very-low-birthweight and very preterm infants in the United States. With improved survival of smaller babies, more infants are at risk for ROP, yet there is an increasing shortage of providers to screen and treat ROP. Through a literature review of new and emerging technologies, screening criteria, and analysis of a national survey of pediatric ophthalmologists and retinal specialists, the authors found the shortage of ophthalmology workforce for ROP a serious and growing concern. When used appropriately, emerging technologies have the potential to mitigate gaps in the ROP workforce.
Virtual visits (VVs) are necessitated due to the public health crisis and social distancing mandates due to COVID-19. However, these have been rare in ophthalmology. Over 3.5 years of conducting >350 ophthalmological VVs, our group has gained numerous insights into best practices. This communication shares these experiences with the medical community to support patient care during this difficult time and beyond. We highlight that mastering the technological platform of choice, optimizing lighting, camera positioning, and "eye contact," being thoughtful and creative with the virtual eye examination, and ensuring good documenting and billing will make a successful and efficient VV. Moreover, we think these ideas will stimulate further VV creativity and expertise to be developed in ophthalmology and across medicine. This approach, holds promise for increasing its adoption after the crisis has passed.
BACKGROUND: Patients presenting to emergency departments for ophthalmic emergencies benefit from prompt evaluation. However, Few emergency departments (EDs) have ophthalmologists on call, and eye care provided in EDs without ophthalmic services can be inaccurate. METHODS: We review the current state of ophthalmic telemedical care in EDs and highlight important considerations when implementing telemedicine in this setting. RESULTS: Telemedicine allows ophthalmologists to work with on-site emergency care providers to interview and examine patients remotely in EDs, enabling proper assessment of patient history, visual acuity, pupils, intraocular pressure, as well as the anterior and posterior segment. To date, patients' perceptions of this new model of care have been largely positive. DISCUSSION: The use of telemedical consultations for remote evaluation of patients with ophthalmic complaints stands to improve the quality of care provided to patients and extend the reach of remote ophthalmologists. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of in-person care further highlights the potential for telemedicine to augment existing models of emergency care.
Purpose: Determine the risk of immunomodulatory therapy (IMT) for COVID-19 infection morbidity.Method: A telemedicine survey on patients of a referral uveitis clinic was performed. Signs of infection, habits, and hospitalizations during the 7 months of the COVID-19 pandemic prior to the study date were recorded. Suggestive findings in chest CT scan and/or positive RT-PCR were considered as confirmed COVID-19 infection while those with only suggestive symptoms were considered as suspected cases. Risk factors including sanitary measures and IMT were compared between patients with confirmed cases and patients without infection.Result: 694 patients were included. Eight patients were identified as confirmed cases and 22 patients as suspected cases of COVID-19 infection. Close contact with infected persons was the only significant risk factor for contracting COVID-19.Conclusion: Using IMT did not affect hospitalization and/or ICU admission and can thus be continued during the pandemic, provided that instructions for preventive measures are followed.
BACKGROUND: Bedside manner describes how clinicians relate to patients in person. Telemedicine allows clinicians to connect virtually with patients using digital tools. Effective virtual communication or webside manner may require modifications to traditional bedside manner. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to understand the experiences of telemedicine providers with patient-to-provider virtual visits and communication with families at a single large-volume children's hospital to inform program development and training for future clinicians. METHODS: A total of 2 focus groups of pediatric clinicians (N=11) performing virtual visits before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a range of experiences and specialties, were engaged to discuss experiential, implementation, and practice-related issues. Focus groups were facilitated using a semistructured guide covering general experience, preparedness, rapport strategies, and suggestions. Sessions were digitally recorded, and the corresponding transcripts were reviewed for data analysis. The transcripts were coded based on the identified main themes and subthemes. On the basis of a higher-level analysis of these codes, the study authors generated a final set of key themes to describe the collected data. RESULTS: Theme consistency was identified across diverse participants, although individual clinician experiences were influenced by their specialties and practices. A total of 3 key themes emerged regarding the development of best practices, barriers to scalability, and establishing patient rapport. Issues and concerns related to privacy were salient across all themes. Clinicians felt that telemedicine required new skills for patient interaction, and not all were comfortable with their training. CONCLUSIONS: Telemedicine provides benefits as well as challenges to health care delivery. In interprofessional focus groups, pediatric clinicians emphasized the importance of considering safety and privacy to promote rapport and webside manner when conducting virtual visits. The inclusion of webside manner instructions within training curricula is crucial as telemedicine becomes an established modality for providing health care.
Access to pediatric eye care is critical in diagnosing and treating eye disease promptly to prevent visual impairment. The demand for pediatric ophthalmology is high, even in developed countries, and significant socioeconomic disparities exist in access to care. The purpose of this article is to summarize the current literature on the use of telemedicine in pediatric ophthalmology in the underserved population and to identify areas of opportunity. A detailed literature review was performed in PubMed and Google Scholar on October 1, 2021. All articles in English that described the use of telemedicine in pediatric ophthalmology, with particular attention to the underserved pediatric population, were included. There is a paucity of literature on the visual outcomes from pediatric teleophthalmology alone, and even less in underserved populations specifically. Literature supports its use in subacute to chronic eye disease, return and postoperative visits, and screening for retinopathy in prematurity in particular. Collaboration between pediatric optometrists and pediatric ophthalmologists for both asynchronous and synchronous care delivery models has shown promise in several studies. It is essential to operate within the limits of pediatric teleophthalmology and utilize this valuable service for its strengths. Telemedicine may expand access to pediatric ophthalmologists in underserved populations and may reduce the burden of eye disease.
BACKGROUND: To study the utility of a teleophthalmology program to diagnose and triage common ophthalmic complaints presenting to an ophthalmic emergency room. METHODS: Prospective, observational study of 258 eyes of 129 patients presenting to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Emergency Ward (MEE EW) who completed a questionnaire to gather chief complaint (CC), history of present illness, and medical history. Anterior and posterior segment photographs were collected via iPhone 5 C camera and a Canon non-mydriatic fundus camera, respectively. Ophthalmic vital signs were collected. All information was reviewed remotely by three ophthalmologists; a diagnosis and urgency designation were recorded. The remote assessment was compared to gold standard in-person assessment. RESULTS: The 129 recruited patients collectively contributed 220 visual complaints, of which 121 (55%) were from females with mean age 56.5 years (range 24-89). Sensitivities and specificities for telemedical triage were as follows: eye pain (n = 56; sensitivity: 0.58, CI [0.41, 0.74]; specificity: 0.91, CI [0.80, 1]), eye redness (n = 54; 0.68, CI [0.50, 0.86]; 0.93, CI [0.84, 1]), blurry vision (n = 68; 0.73, CI [0.60, 0.86]; 0.91, CI [0.80, 1]), and eyelid complaints (n = 42; 0.67, CI [0.43, 0.91]; 0.96, CI [0.89, 1]). The remote diagnostic accuracies, as stratified by CC, were eye pain (27/56; 48.21%), eye redness: (32/54; 59.26%), blurry vision: (30/68; 44.11%), eyelid (24/42; 57.14%). CONCLUSIONS: Telemedical examination of emergent ophthalmic complaints consisting of a patient questionnaire, anterior segment and fundus photos, and ophthalmic vital signs, may be useful to reliably triage eye disease based on presenting complaint.
Telemedicine is the provision of healthcare-related services from a distance and is poised to move healthcare from the physician's office back into the patient's home. The field of ophthalmology is often at the forefront of technological advances in medicine including telemedicine and the use of artificial intelligence. Multiple studies have demonstrated the reliability of tele-ophthalmology for use in screening and diagnostics and have demonstrated benefits to patients, physicians, as well as payors. There remain obstacles to widespread implementation, but recent legislation and regulation passed due to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic have helped to reduce some of these barriers. This review describes the current status of tele-ophthalmology in the United States including benefits, hurdles, current programs, technology, and developments in artificial intelligence. With ongoing advances patients may benefit from improved detection and earlier treatment of eye diseases, resulting in better care and improved visual outcomes.
Background:Utilizing telemedicine is one approach to reduce the ever-increasing burden of patients on emergency departments (EDs) and consulting physicians. Utilization of telemedicine services in the ED may also benefit resident education.Materials and Methods:Ten first-year ophthalmology residents were trained to use a Topcon 3D Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)-1 Maestro to capture OCT images and fundus photos in patients presenting to the ED with urgent ophthalmic concerns. Findings were communicated to the supervising ophthalmologist. Retrospective chart review was conducted to obtain patient characteristics and final ophthalmologist diagnosis. Residents rated ease of use, technical reliability, and educational value through a survey.Results:From December 1, 2019, to December 1, 2020, the device was used in 109 patient encounters, capturing 887 images (average 8.1 images per encounter). Patients on whom the device was used were on average 48.5 years old (±17.2, range 17-90) and 59.6% were female. The imaging device was utilized most commonly for evaluating papilledema (n = 21, 18.6%), new-onset visual acuity/visual field defects (n = 12, 10.6%), retinal detachment/tear (n = 8, 7.1%), and ophthalmic trauma workup (n = 8, 7.1%). Eight residents completed the survey and most (n = 7) agreed or strongly agreed that the device helped them diagnose patients more accurately. Technical issues such as machine malfunction, image artifacts, and problems syncing with the electronic health record and computer were noted by survey respondents.Conclusions:The most common use of teleophthalmology in the ED setting was evaluation of papilledema; the majority of residents perceived an educational benefit from this tool. Efforts should be made to address the technical challenges to increase the utility of this device.
Wendt S, Abdullah Z, Barrett S, Daruwalla C, Go JA, Le B, Li E, Livingston C, Miller M, Nakhleh L, Pecha J, Pothula S, Pradhan S, Sathappan V, Shah A, Sonuyi A-M, Ugoh P, Wang Q, Weber N, Succar T, Blieden L, Mortensen P, Elkin Z, Sun G, Lee AG. A virtual COVID-19 ophthalmology rotation. Surv Ophthalmol 2021;66(2):354-361.Abstract
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic temporarily suspended medical student involvement in clinical rotations, resulting in the need to develop virtual clinical experiences. The cancellation of clinical ophthalmology electives and away rotations reduces opportunities for exposure to the field, to network with faculty, conduct research, and prepare for residency applications. We review the literature and discuss the impact and consequences of COVID-19 on undergraduate medical education with an emphasis on ophthalmic undergraduate medical education. We also discuss innovative learning modalities used from medical schools around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic such as virtual didactics, online cases, and telehealth. Finally, we describe a novel, virtual neuro-ophthalmology elective created to educate medical students on neuro-ophthalmology foundational principles, provide research and presentation opportunities, and build relationships with faculty members. These innovative approaches represent a step forward in further improving medical education in ophthalmology during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.