Pioneering Local Eye Project Rolled Out Across Scotland

A pioneering virtual emergency consultation programme for eye patients has been extended to potentially cover the whole of Scotland in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A teleophthalmology system developed in collaboration by the University of Strathclyde, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Grampian connects specialists using a telemedicine platform used by NHS Scotland.

It involves the use of a slit lamp microscope live video feed along with a tablet computer transmitting a live video feed which securely connects doctors, opticians and patients and enables people attending an opticians, ED department or Minor Injuries Unit to be seen by a specialist straight away and immediately diagnosed and treated.

The trial, which started in April 2018, became part of usual practice in the Emergency Departments at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert and in the Minor Injuries Unit at the Stirling Health and Care Village.

Project Lead and NHS Forth Valley Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr Livingstone, said: “Covid-19 has completely disrupted traditional eye care and it is now critical to avoid unnecessary hospital visits, reduce crowded clinics, and treat patients in their own home. Modern mobile technology enables this.

“We are progressing the teleophthalmology programme across Scotland, and have 12 activated teleoptometry practices so far, re-centring acute eye care to optometric practices. We are delighted to have just activated our most rural site in Shetland.

“The system means an eye specialist is able to review patients at the moment advice is needed, offering support to high street opticians and ensuring any follow up treatment is more streamlined.

“Personally, I think this is the most important development in modern eye care, catalysed by the present pandemic.”