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Virtual consultations for eye emergencies piloted in Scotland

A slit lamp combined with a live video feed has been used in more than 80 video referrals for urgent eye problems

08 Aug 2019 by Selina Powell

Technology that enables consultant ophthalmologists to remotely examine patients with urgent eye problems has been piloted in Scotland.

The teleophthalmology system was developed by the University of Strathclyde and NHS Forth Valley.

It combines a slit lamp microscope and a tablet computer that transmits a live video feed allowing a consultant to view the patient’s eye remotely.

An audio feed is transmitted through the computer allowing communication between the patient, consultant, optometrist and other clinicians.

The system is used by seven on-call consultants within NHS Forth Valley and is also being trialled at one of Scotland’s busiest accident and emergency departments at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

More than 80 video referrals for urgent eye problems have been made within NHS Forth Valley.

Dr Mario Giardini, from the University of Strathclyde, shared that there has already been interest in the technology from other health boards across Scotland.

“By allowing doctors to connect remotely to the instruments, instead of having to transport the patients to hospital, it allows remote areas to access emergency eye care, thus promoting healthcare equality,” he shared.

Alloa-based optometrist, Linda Hunter, said the technology is easy to use, while the image and sound quality is high.

“It would be great to see it in more widespread use. I can see it being particularly beneficial in rural areas,” she shared.

Image credit: University of Strathclyde

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