New York Times Examines Use of Digital Cameras To Screen Retinas
The New York Times today examines the increased use of digital cameras to screen retinas, a procedure that costs less and is more accurate than traditional retinal examinations. The digital cameras can detect a number of conditions that can lead to blindness, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity in newborns. The devices have helped provide care for patients in remote areas; health clinics can take detailed digital images of retinas and transmit them to ophthalmology centers for analysis. The digital cameras, called nonmidriatic fundus cameras, can produce a photograph of a retina in about three minutes. The devices, which cost $16,000 to $90,000 each, can store thousands of the images on a CD, DVD or computer hard drive. The digital images allow physicians to build a photographic record for each patient that can help in the detection of degenerative disorders. In a recent three-month study in South Carolina, a physician screened patients in Ridgeland, S.C., and transmitted the images to an ophthalmologist in Columbia, S.C.; the practice saved four patients from blindness, according to the Times. "We were able to show our ability to detect retinopathy was equal to or better than a doctor's exam," Mark Blumenkranz, a study author and chair of the ophthalmology department at Stanford University, said (Furchgott, New York Times, 7/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.