Telemedicine vision for remote eye care

April 30, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Optometrists from Flinders University will soon be able to diagnose and manage eye diseases in rural and remote communities – all from the comfort of their computer chair.

Under the plan, people with a suspected diabetes-related eye problem can visit a partnering health care clinic in remote regions of the state where a special retinal camera takes a picture of the back of the eye, sending the digital images electronically to Flinders for assessment.

Indigenous Australians are particularly susceptible to diabetes-related , a common complication of diabetes that affects the small blood vessels in the back of the retina and causes them to leak, break down or become blocked, impairing vision.

Professor Konrad Pesudovs (pictured, right), Head of and Vision Science at Flinders, said the project would be based on a similar model of “telemedicine” used by the world’s best optometry school – the University of California, Berkeley.

Since launching in 2005, the Berkeley program has grown from just a few hundred eye examinations a month to more than 30,000 a year throughout California’s Central Valley.

Professor Pesudovs met with his Californian counterpart, Professor Tony Adams (pictured, left), in April to discuss the program and future plans for the expansion of Optometry and Vision Science at Flinders.

“We’ve been doing it at Berkeley for a few years now and we’re quite excited that Flinders is also interested in running this kind of model of care, especially in remote areas,” Dr Adams, an Emeritus Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of California, said.

“A whole bunch of people with diabetes in Alice Springs, for example, could get tested in their own town and the trained clinicians in a big city such as Adelaide can give feedback, almost instantly, on how to treat these patients,” he said.

“And from what I’ve heard about the needs in remote parts of South Australia I can’t think of a better place to bring this in.”

Professor Pesudovs said the project was now being trialled in partnership with an Aboriginal health centre in Port Pirie, with plans in place to create a wider network of clinics linked to a central Flinders “telemedicine eye centre”.

“We’re hoping the program will reach people who don’t have access to an ophthalmologist or an optometrist and we also see it as a great benefit to our students because they will be able to diagnose and manage treatment plans firsthand,” Professor Pesudovs said.

As part of his Australian visit, Professor Adams toured Flinders optometry school, describing its close proximity to the medical centre as a great benefit for students, staff and patients.

“Having a hospital, medical school and a university all on the same site is not very typical but it gets you immersed in patient care and issues much quicker,” he said.

“I’ve also had a chance to hear about some of the future developments for the discipline and I think they’re quite innovative and exciting.”

Born in Melbourne, Professor Adams studied optometry at Melbourne University before moving to the US to complete his PhD at the University of Indiana.

In 1968 he moved to Berkeley where he managed the PhD program for several years and spent a decade in the 1990s as Dean of the School of Optometry and .

Explore further: World-first glaucoma gene discovery

Related Stories

World-first glaucoma gene discovery

May 2, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- An Australian research team led by Flinders University researchers has discovered two new genes that could open the way to new treatments for blinding glaucoma.

Don't get tricked into hurting your eyes with unsafe contact lenses for Halloween

October 25, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Some people think it’s cool to give themselves “cat” eyes, “wolf” eyes or really bloodshot eyes for Halloween. That’s possible with decorative contact lenses, but an optometrist ...

Autoimmune diseases the target of new research

March 13, 2012
A revolutionary medical breakthrough by researchers at Flinders University could pave the way to a cure for two debilitating autoimmune diseases.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.