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Flinders University's optometrists will soon be able to diagnose and manage eye diseases in rural and remote communities without leaving Adelaide.
The Telemedicine project planned for Optometry and Vision Science at Flinders will allow people living in remote regions of South Australia who have a suspected diabetes-related eye problem to receive treatment via their local partnering health care clinic.
A special retinal camera will take a picture of the back of the eye, before a digital image is sent electronically for assessment by a Flinders optometrist.
Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples with diabetes have a greater risk than the wider population of Australia of developing eye damage leading to blindness.
The Head of Optometry and Vision Science at Flinders, Professor Konrad Pesudovs, said the project would be based on a comparable model of ‘telemedicine' used by the University of California in Berkeley.
Emeritus Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of California, Dr Tony Adams, said, ‘A whole bunch of people with diabetes in Alice Springs, for example, could get tested in their own town and the trained clinicians in a big city such as Adelaide can give feedback, almost instantly, on how to treat these patients. And from what I've heard about the needs in remote parts of South Australia I can't think of a better place to bring this in.'
Professor Pesudovs said the project was now being trialled in partnership with an Aboriginal health centre in Port Pirie, with plans in place to create a wider network of clinics linked to a central Flinders Telemedicine Eye Centre. ‘We're hoping the program will reach people who don't have access to an ophthalmologist or an optometrist', Professor Pesudovs said.
Source: Eye smart: the portal for the Australian and New Zealand (NZ) eye care industry