Telemedicine Screening Effort Deemed a Success

A multifaceted glaucoma screening initiative spearheaded by Lisa Hark, PhD, and Jonathan Myers, MD, both of Wills Eye Hospital, primarily targeted low-income, minority, at-risk, and elderly Philadelphians who had not been receiving regular eye examinations.

The main clinical goal of the effort was to determine if there was agreement between ocular findings of a telemedicine eye screening (visit 1) with diagnoses of a comprehensive eye examination (visit 2). To that end, a primary care practice-based telemedicine screening program incorporating fundus photography, IOP, and clinical information was conducted.

Of the 906 participants who attended the initial visit, 536 were invited to visit 2 due to ocular findings or unreadable images. Among the 347 (64.9%) who attended visit 2, 280 (80.7%) were diagnosed with at least 1 ocular condition. Participants were predominantly female (59.9%) and black (65.6%), with a mean age of 60.6 years. A high diagnostic confirmation rate (86.0%) was found between visit 1 and visit 2 for any ocular finding. Of 183 patients with suspicious nerves at their first visit 1,143 (78.1%) were diagnosed as glaucoma or glaucoma suspects at visit 2. The researchers concluded that this screening model may be adapted and scaled nationally and internationally. The study was reported in a recent issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.