Purpose: To evaluate the use of remote reading of digital retinal photographs in the diagnosis of severe (referral-warranted) retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) during longitudinal screening for ROP.
Study design: Prospective, longitudinal cohort study.
Subjects: Forty-four consecutive premature infants at risk for ROP.
Methods: All infants were examined longitudinally, over a series of examinations, by indirect ophthalmoscopy (gold standard) and digital photography using the RetCam-120 Digital Retinal Camera (Massie Research Laboratories Inc., Dublin, CA) equipped with an ROP lens. Images were stored and read remotely by a masked reader. Referral-warranted ROP was defined as ROP in zone 1, the presence of plus disease or the presence of any stage 3 ROP. We determined whether and when referral-warranted ROP was diagnosed for each eye, of each infant, on each examination, during the course of each of the infant's screening.
Results: Severe (referral-warranted) ROP was diagnosed in 23 eyes by indirect ophthalmoscopy during their series of examinations. Digital photography had a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 96% in detecting referral-warranted ROP. The positive predictive value of digital photography was 92%, and the negative predictive value was 100%. In 87% of eyes, referral-warranted ROP was diagnosed by digital photography before or at the same time as indirect ophthalmoscopy.
Conclusions: Longitudinal remote reading of digital photographs using the RetCam-120 system has excellent specificity and sensitivity in detecting referral-warranted ROP. This pilot study has shown that remote reading of digital photographs has promise for telemedicine strategies in ROP screening.