Covid-19 Update and a Taste of Tele-Optometry

Blog by Ivan J. Srut, O.D.
Chief of Optometry for St. Hope Foundation
Since last month’s blog there has not been any new information about Covid-19 and the eyes! Viral conjunctivitis, or “pink eye” remains to be the only issue we’ve seen. Long term that may change, and I will update as I hear or read more!
Interestingly, some places have seen rare cases of viral conjunctivitis among people that tested positive for Covid-19, while other areas have seen large numbers! Likely more data needs to be collected, and testing needs to be done, before we really now how prevalent the pink eye is!
Keep your hands clean, and touch eyes, nose and face as little as possible! This is especially true if you are around sick people, and those already with red eye or a viral conjunctivitis.
Moving on though…
I have been researching some tele-optometry systems, basically doing eye exams where the patient and doctor are not in the same room(like tele-medicine). Likely more inspired by recent events of this virus, but also by the fact that many people have a hard time getting to an eye doctor, many companies are investing in systems that would allow them to do eye exams virtually.
Personally, I have been a little skeptical about doing as good an exam the virtual way vs. an in-person visit. Technology is starting to make me more of a believer, however! Over the years retinal cameras, anterior segment cameras, imaging systems and other devices have made the in-person visit so much more comprehensive, while at the same time ensuring that less and less diagnoses are missed! Virtual technology is making a lot of progress in this direction as well!
Some Tele-Optometry systems involve the patient going into a clinic, having a technician do all of the testing, and photographs, then the patient and doctor discussing the results virtually and prescribing necessary eyewear or medications.
Other systems are done(I still have to see it to believe it) involve the patient and doctor being on a virtual call, but the doctor being able to do a virtual refraction(checking for a glasses prescription, and contact lens prescription), and also being able to use technology to be able to examine both external and internal health of the eye! Quite incredible, actually!
Next month I will give more specifics on this way of doing eye exams. Wouldn’t it be cool to pick out your glasses, AND do your eye exams, from the comfort of your home!? It’s not as far-fetched as it used to be!
Until next time…