Purpose: Describe the first 3 years of highly specialized retinal screening through a web platform using a retinologists' network for image reading.
Methods: All patients who came to centers in the network and consented to fundus photography were included. Images were evaluated by ophthalmologists. We describe number of patients, age, visual acuity, retinal abnormalities, medical recommendations, and factors associated with abnormal retinographies.
Results: Fifty thousand three hundred eighty-four patients were included; mean age 52.3 years (range 3-99). Mean visual acuity 20/25. Of the total cohort, 75% had normal retinographies, 22% had abnormalities, 1% referred acute floaters, 1% referred acute symptoms with normal retinography, and 1% could not be assessed. Ophthalmological referral was recommended in 12,634 patients: 9% urgent visit, 11% preferential (2-3 weeks), and 80% an ordinary visit. Age-related maculopathy signs were the most common abnormalities (2,456 patients, 4.8%). Epiretinal membrane was the second (764 cases, 1.5%). Diabetic retinopathy was suspected in 543 patients (1%), and nevi in 358 patients (0.7%). Patients older than 50 years had significantly more retinal abnormalities (31.5%) than younger ones (11.1%) (p < 0.0001; odds ratio [OR] 2.47; confidence interval [CI] 2.37-2.57). Patients with almost one eye with a myopic defect greater than -5 spherical equivalent had a higher risk of presenting abnormalities (p < 0.001; OR 1.04; CI 1.03-1.05).
Conclusions: A high rate of asymptomatic retinal abnormalities was detected in this general screening, justifying this practice. Many patients who visit optometrists in Spain are unaware that they would benefit from ophthalmological monitoring. The ophthalmic community should lead initiatives of the type presented to preserve and guarantee quality standards.
Keywords: commercial telemedicine; ophthalmology; technology; telemedicine.