Teleophthalmology and Artificial Intelligence As Game Changers in Ophthalmic Care After the COVID-19 Pandemic
Cureus . 2021 Jul 14;13(7):e16392. doi: 10.7759/cureus.16392. eCollection 2021 Jul.
Anna Nikolaidou, Konstantinos T Tsaousis
The current COVID-19 pandemic has boosted a sudden demand for telemedicine due to quarantine and travel restrictions. The exponential increase in the use of telemedicine is expected to affect ophthalmology drastically. The aim of this review is to discuss the utility, effectiveness and challenges of teleophthalmological new tools for eyecare delivery as well as its implementation and possible facilitation with artificial intelligence. We used the terms: "teleophthalmology," "telemedicine and COVID-19," "retinal diseases and telemedicine," "virtual ophthalmology," "cost effectiveness of teleophthalmology," "pediatric teleophthalmology," "Artificial intelligence and ophthalmology," "Glaucoma and teleophthalmology" and "teleophthalmology limitations" in the database of PubMed and selected the articles being published in the course of 2015-2020. After the initial search, 321 articles returned as relevant. A meticulous screening followed and eventually 103 published manuscripts were included and used as our references. Emerging in the market, teleophthalmology is showing great potential for the future of ophthalmological care, benefiting both patients and ophthalmologists in times of pandemics. The spectrum of eye diseases that could benefit from teleophthalmology is wide, including mostly retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, age-related macular degeneration but also glaucoma and anterior segment conditions. Simultaneously, artificial intelligence provides ways of implementing teleophthalmology easier and with better outcomes, contributing as significant changing factors for ophthalmology practice after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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