Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Diagnosis Time Significantly Reduced Using Telemedicine

Traditional bedside ophthalmoscopy diagnosis can require greater time commitments, according to a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology

Philadelphia, PA, 29 June 2009 – To be properly diagnosed, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the leading cause of childhood blindness in the United States and worldwide, requires a time intensive process and significant coordination between ophthalmologist and NICU staff. A recent study examining ROP diagnosis speed using indirect ophthalmoscopy versus telemedicine, remote medical consultation, is featured in the July issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, published by Elsevier.

The study was designed to compare the ophthalmologist’s speed of ROP diagnosis using telemedicine versus traditional bedside ophthalmoscopy. The findings reveal that: 1) ROP diagnosis by the ophthalmologist is significantly faster via telemedicine, and 2) there are significant time requirements by ophthalmologists associated with ROP diagnosis at the NICU bedside beyond ophthalmoscopy. In particular, additional time is taken for travel and communication with families and hospital staff.

To counteract these time requirements the implementation of telemedicine for ROP management has the ability to decrease the time commitment for examining ophthalmologists. Previous studies have shown that telemedical ROP diagnosis is highly accurate and reliable compared with ophthalmoscopy, and future work is required to address workflow questions in more detail.

According to senior author Michael F. Chiang, MD, “Telemedicine has potential to improve the delivery and accessibility of care for infants with ROP by reducing geographical and logistical barriers. This study shows that it may also improve the efficiency of care for ophthalmologists.”

Given the increased number of at-risk infants in the United States and worldwide, improved use of ophthalmology resources may help to prevent cases of avoidable childhood blindness.

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Notes to Editors: 
The article is “The Speed of Telemedicine vs Ophthalmoscopy for Retinopathy of Prematurity Diagnosis” by Grace M. Richter, Grace Sun, Thoms C. Lee, R.V. Chuan, John L. Flynn, Justin Starren, and Michael Chiang. It appears in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Volume 148, Issue 1 (July 2009) published by Elsevier. The full-text article is available to members of the press by contacting the Elsevier press office at newsroom@elsevier.com

About the American Journal of Ophthalmology
The American Journal of Ophthalmology is a peer-reviewed, scientific publication that welcomes the submission of original, previously unpublished manuscripts directed to ophthalmologists and visual science specialists describing clinical investigations, clinical observations, and clinically relevant laboratory investigations. Published monthly since 1884, the full text of theAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology and supplementary material are also presented on the Internet at www.AJO.com

About Elsevier
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