A telemedicine program for diabetic retinopathy in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center--the Joslin Vision Network Eye Health Care Model

Am J Ophthalmol. 2005 Apr;139(4):597-604. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2004.10.064.


Purpose: To extend access to diabetic eye care and characterize the extent of diabetic retinopathy {DR) and other ocular findings using the Joslin Vision Network (JVN).

Design: Retrospective observational cohort study.

Methods: Outpatients at the Togus VA Medical Center with diabetes mellitus, impaired fasting glucose, or impaired glucose tolerance underwent JVN protocol imaging. Images were transmitted to the Joslin Diabetes Center for grading and recommended treatment plan.

Results: The study included 1,219 patients (2,437 eyes); 1,536 eyes (63.0%) had no (DR), 389 (16.0%) had mild nonproliferative DR (NPDR), 105 (4.3%) moderate NPDR, 35 (1.4%) severe NPDR, 20 (0.8%) very severe NPDR, and 21 (0.9%) had proliferative DR (PDR). Regarding diabetic macular edema (DME), 1,907 eyes (78.3%) had no DME, 34 (1.4%) had early DME, and 16 (0.7%) had clinically significant macular edema (CSME). Of all patients, 354 (29.0%) had either no DR or mild NPDR in both eyes, no evidence of DME, and no significant nondiabetic findings; 679 (55.7%) had no DR in either eye, and 229 (18.8%) had mild NPDR in the more severe eye. Of the 908 patients (74.5%) with either no DR or mild NPDR in the more severe eye, 533 (58.7%) had at least one nondiabetic ocular finding necessitating referral. Finally, 320 eyes (13.1%) were ungradable for both DR and DME and 160 (6.6%) were ungradable for DME alone.

Conclusion: In a non-ophthalmic setting, JVN identifies the severity of DR and nondiabetic ocular conditions, permitting appropriate triage for eye care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telepathology / methods*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs