For many years, the direct ophthalmoscope has served as the primary tool in healthcare for spotting signs of eye diseases that cause severe vision loss and blindness. These include glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and perhaps most alarmingly, diabetic retinopathy.
The device has served patients and doctors well, but new health risks suggest that it may be time for a change. The direct ophthalmoscope, once ideal for retina screening, is geared for use in a specialist environment, where doctors evaluate the extent of disease and develop carefully designed treatment plans. However, there is an emerging and urgent need for preventive eye screenings in other healthcare venues, such as primary care and emergency rooms.
There have been continued improvements in healthcare IT, specifically in the area of diagnostic imaging. The new technology makes it easier, more convenient, and more cost-effective to provide enhanced retina screening outside the specialist office.
These new tools will, at a minimum, become a complement to the direct ophthalmoscope, but they hold great potential to help healthcare providers better address the growing concern of blindness from chronic eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.
The Alarming Trends of Diabetic Retinopathy
The numbers regarding diabetes and diabetic retinopathy are startling. The incidence of diabetes is forecast to grow by a third over the next twenty-five years in all parts of the world.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the proper functioning of the retina. It is a silently progressive disease, causing asymptomatic, undetected problems in the retina.
The concern is that as diabetes cases go up, so will instances of diabetic retinopathy. An estimated one in ten people with diabetes will develop the kind of diabetic retinopathy that threatens to take away their eyesight. As cases of diabetes surge, more people worldwide face the risks of blindness.
In general, healthcare is not currently equipped to handle this surge because it requires expanded capabilities for early detection outside the specialist office, which the direct ophthalmoscope cannot always provide. For starters, it offers a narrow field of view. Also, generally speaking, the direct ophthalmoscope is a poor fit for the high-traffic workflow found in the primary care office, which is the logical location for an enhanced retina screening to take place.
Why Invest in Retinal Cameras
Digital cameras that provide enhanced retina screening capabilities are poised to fill the care gap created by changing healthcare demographics and the specialized nature of the direct ophthalmoscope. Retinal cameras provide vital new capabilities in a cost-effective and workflow-efficient way that could broaden the availability of early eye disease identification, leading to more timely preventive treatment and potentially saving eyesight.
The cameras can allow for enhanced retina screenings on patients without the administration of drops that dilate the pupils, a significant drawback of the direct ophthalmoscope. The camera systems have several additional benefits:
- Retina camera systems capture digital images that can be shared at the click of a mouse with specialists or filed away in patient health records for future documentation. This is extremely important, given the global nature of the digital retinopathy crisis.
- Retinal cameras are better suited to social distancing, as a way of keeping COVID-19 in check. Doctors can capture images without having to be up close and personal, and the ability to share data with specialists reduces the number of health professionals whom patients have to see.
- Retinal cameras are ideally suited for the primary care office, as they are portable and can be carried from exam room to exam room or to remote clinics, or even on house calls. They can also become a regular part of the routine checkup, without expensive visits to specialists.
The capabilities provided by retinal cameras, especially when integrated with artificial intelligence, give doctors the chance to spot problems that otherwise may have been missed.
The Optomed Solution for Retina Screening
Optomed is a leading innovator in the development of digital retina cameras that enable enhanced retina screening and can close the care gap in digital retinopathy.
The company’s platform is the Aurora camera, which offers a wider field of view in a lightweight, portable handheld design, along with autofocus and auto-exposure.
The cameras are part of a system that offers cloud connectivity with AI integration capabilities. This provides decision-making support for identifying cases that need immediate attention.
One of the biggest advantages of the Aurora system is that it allows for non-mydriatic operation. Patients do not need pupil dilation for the system to provide a clear view of the fundus. The 50-degree field of view also provides a broader view of the retinal surface, allowing the doctors to complete scans faster and more comprehensively.
Optomed has been focused on creating enhanced retina screening technology since its inception. The Aurora can identify microvascular problems in the fundus sooner, with the goal of helping patients avoid sight loss.
Here at Optomed, our mission is to help save the vision of millions of people. By integrating our software and artificial intelligence solutions with our camera, we enable eye screening for everyone, wherever they are. To see how we can equip you to save the sight of more patients, schedule a free consultation today!