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Surv Ophthalmol. 2009 Nov-Dec;54(6):671-85. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2009.02.020. Epub 2009 Aug 8.

Telemedicine for retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis: evaluation and challenges.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a vasoproliferative disorder affecting low birth weight infants. Although timely diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of severe complications, ROP remains a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. Limitations of current disease management strategies include extensive travel and logistical coordination requirements for ophthalmologists and neonatologists, decreasing availability of adequately trained ophthalmologists at the point of care, variability in how retinal findings are diagnosed and documented, and a growing need for ROP care worldwide. Store-and-forward telemedicine is an emerging technology by which medical data are captured for subsequent interpretation by a remote expert. This has potential to improve accessibility, quality, and cost of ROP management. In this article, we summarize the current evaluation data on applications of telemedicine for ROP, particularly involving the diagnostic accuracy and reliability of remote image interpretation by experts. We also address challenges such as the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine, and highlight potential barriers to implementation of these systems. Understanding these principles is essential to determine future directions in research and development of telemedicine systems for ROP, as well as for other ophthalmic diseases.

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