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Ophthalmology Telemedicine Services

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For patients located outside of Pittsburgh, UPMC's Teleophthalmology Program brings world-class ophthalmologists to their local emergency departments.

The UPMC Department of Ophthalmology uses real-time image transmission and video display to provide remote:

  • Ophthalmic consultations
  • Test interpretation capabilities
  • Screenings for diabetic retinopathy

How Teleophthalmology Works

The emergency room provider at the patient's location takes a digital photo of the eye.

Using real-time image transmission, a board-certified ophthalmologist at UPMC in Pittsburgh is able to:

  • See the image immediately
  • Provide a timely diagnosis and recommend a plan for treatment
  • Ensure continuity of care if the patient must be transferred to Pittsburgh for treatment
  • Include the originating physician in treatment plans, so the patient’s care can be managed locally

These teleopthalmology services can be invaluable for patients who live in regions where local hospitals do not employ ophthalmologists.

Remote Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy

In addition to real-time ophthalmic services, UPMC retinal specialists offer remote screening for diabetic retinopathy via telemedicine.

The National Institutes of Health recommends all people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes undergo a comprehensive retina exam, at least once a year, to screen for diabetic retinopathy. However, many people with diabetes do not regularly follow up with a retina specialist because of inconvenience and cost.

By placing specialized telehealth cameras in primary care physicians' offices, PCPs can obtain photographs of their diabetes patients' retinas and securely transmit the images to a UPMC ophthalmologist for review.

UPMC ophthalmologists provide PCPs with a formal report and, if necessary, recommendations for developing a plan of treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

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