Purpose: To determine the feasibility of using telemedicine consultations in the evaluation of recovered donor corneas for transplant suitability.
Methods: This study aims to establish and test the minimum imaging requirements for telemedical consultations of corneal tissue by remote eye bank medical directors. Digital images from the slit lamp, optical coherence tomography, and/or specular microscope were assembled into telemedical consults and emailed to 4 eye bank medical directors (M.A.T., J.W., C.S.S., N.K.R.). Feedback on the minimum image requirements for each corneal finding was collected. After establishing a standardized imaging and presentation protocol, test cases were presented to the medical directors to examine the validity of these remote consults. To establish a benchmark for the study's parameters, one medical director (J.W.) examined each case in person after his initial remote review. Examiners were masked to each other's responses.
Results: Minimum image requirements for determination of corneal findings were defined and were specific to each anatomic layer of the cornea (epithelial, stromal, or endothelial). Using a defined set of digital images for a set of common corneal findings, the rate of agreement between remote evaluators, eye bank staff, and the in-person evaluator was 100% (11 of 11 examples). For ambiguous test cases, remote evaluators agreed on 80% of the cases (4 of 5).
Conclusions: Results from this pilot study suggest that telemedical review of corneal tissue using high-quality digital images may be adequate for accurate identification of specific corneal findings commonly encountered by eye banks.