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Invited Commentary
August 27, 2020

Military Model Proposes a Way Forward for Telehealth in Ophthalmology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
  • 2Ophthalmology/Operative Care Division, Veterans Administration Portland Health Care System, Portland, Oregon
  • 3Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(10):1061-1062. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.3097

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has transformed the medical landscape by providing conditions for an exponential increase in telehealth services. The need for physical distancing rapidly and severely curtailed in-person medical care, and clinicians sought virtual alternatives to care for patients. Previous barriers to telehealth care delivery, including reimbursement and inertia, were removed through government mandates and necessity. While traditional eye care requires a dilated in-person eye examination, advances in ocular imaging (optical coherence tomography, nonmydriatic fundus photography, and even smartphone examination apps) have improved remote diagnostic acumen. Our experience during COVID-19 has allowed both patients and clinicians to acclimate to telehealth’s promise in providing convenient access to care as well as its limitations. We believe the role of telehealth and teleophthalmology will continue to expand even as in-person limitations decrease after COVID-19.

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