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Invited Commentary
May 2015

Telemedicine and Eye Examinations for Diabetic Retinopathy: A Time to Maximize Real-World Outcomes

Author Affiliations
  • 1Beetham Eye Institute, Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015;133(5):525-526. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.0333

A fundamental aspect of eye care and the long-term prevention of vision loss for patients with diabetes mellitus involves the identification of specific retinal pathologies and the subsequent determination of the severity of diabetic retinopathy. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through individualized assessments by experienced eye care professionals, preferably following pupillary dilation. However, given that it is estimated that there will be more than half a billion persons with diabetes by 2030, necessitating nearly 2000 eye examinations per minute just to evaluate those in need once every year, this approach to retinal evaluation is unlikely to be sustainable by health care systems globally. Furthermore, despite multiple national and international initiatives to increase access and promote awareness regarding the need for eye examinations for all persons with diabetes, only approximately 18% to 60% of persons undergo examinations that attain the recommended ocular examination guidelines.

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