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Ophthalmologists stress on need for technology adoption to facilitate speedy eye tests to offset blindness

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, May 27, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Ophthalmologists perceive that adoption of technology can facilitate faster access to eye care to offset blindness. Technology adoption like laser-assisted cataract surgery, artificial intelligence to detect diabetic retinopathy and use of telemedicine for community outreach programs have brought in advances in patient care with convenience.

According to Dr Rishi Raj Borah, country director – India, Orbis, eye conditions such as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, refractive error etc. are some of the major causes of blindness and visual impairment. Timely medical interventions in the form of screening, diagnosis, and treatment are imperative to prevent vision loss. This is a cause of concern among the rural populations that lack access due to the non-availability of treatment within their vicinity. 

With a major chunk of the Indian population residing in rural areas and the distribution of ophthalmologists majorly in urban areas, delivering quality eye health services to underserved communities poses a challenge. However, technology and telecommunication have transformed the way healthcare is delivered and serves as the gateway to addressing the barrier in access and enabling timely intervention, he added.

This is where Orbis is working to bridge the gap between quality eye care and the people who receive it by harnessing the efficiency and reach of technology and telecommunications through teleophthalmology and the Cybersight platform, he said.

Teleophthalmology is a cost-effective and time-saving approach as the patient can connect with an ophthalmologist located elsewhere. Here, the patients who visit the primary vision centers situated in places that lack access are examined by optometrists. Depending on the requirement of further examination or treatment, the patient is referred to the ophthalmologists who may be stationed at a different hospital and examines them virtually. Based on the teleconsultation and virtual diagnosis, the ophthalmologist may prescribe the medication or treatment plan. Beyond diagnosis and referrals, teleophthalmology also offers avenues for preoperative planning, regular monitoring, and post-operative follow-ups. This enhances the availability and access to eye health services among the population.

The company’s telemedicine platform Cybersight, has been training and building capacities of the eye health professionals. This online training platform that facilitates mentorship, case discussions, webinars and connects ophthalmic professionals with experts from across the globe. This has been instrumental in developing a cadre of trained eye health professionals who upskill themselves and deliver eye health services in their own communities, thus helping percolate the access and quality of care.

With digitalization affecting most sectors, healthcare is no exception. Timely intervention plays a critical role in combating preventable blindness. Therefore, strengthening the infrastructure is pivotal towards enabling ophthalmology. Further, regular eye checkups can help keep vision issues at bay, said Dr Borah.

Dedicated eye care centres in Karnataka including the state-run Minto Ophthalmic Hospital which is the Department of Ophthalmology, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, noted that Community ophthalmology programmes are organised to detect eye conditions at early stages and prevent blindness.

Nethradhama Narayana Nethrayala and Sankara Eye Hospital ophthalmologists also noted the criticality of tech adoption for easy detection of retina conditions to thwart blindness.


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