Post Date: August 14, 2017

Thomas Lee, MD, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Uses Telemedicine To Treat Child Blindness

Armenia EyeCare Project

Many healthcare systems and hospitals have decided to leverage telemedicine to connect patients living in underserved locations with health care providers.

A particular group of pediatric ophthalmologists, subspecialists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are using technology to provide specialist care in various developing nations. Their main goal is to kick out preventable infant blindness.

Within the Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, there is the Vision Center, which is a large multispecialty medical group operating within the facility. This facility works as a referral center for children who are suffering from complex eye illnesses and provides expertise in different pediatric ophthalmologic subspecialties.

Vision Center’s director is known as Thomas C. Lee, M.D., who is also a pediatric retina surgeon. He leads an innovative and professional telemedicine project that focuses on offering remote training for eye surgeons in Armenia. This is done in partnership with the Armenian EyeCare Project –AECP.

Together with a team of doctors, Dr. Lee traveled to Armenia to offer assessment, care as well as programming.

Their main aim is to assist in lowering the rates of preventable blindness mostly experienced in infants. This condition is known as retinopathy of prematurity. According to Lee, the condition happens three times as often in Armenia as in the USA and most western states.

Working with Armenian EyeCare Project for eight years has enabled Lee to understand some of the main challenges specialists face in dealing with complex eye illnesses. He began to diagnose and treat this kind of infant blindness through an affordable online remote training program, and the program has advanced with developments in the sector of health IT.

Since this telemedicine program began in 2009, over 4000 infants have been screened with retinopathy of prematurity. The number of procedures that have been completed to treat the ROP exceeds 309. About 40 operations have been performed so far.

In the beginning, Lee observes that there were certain limitations to this form of technology. Most of these problems were connected to latency since the system had first to buffer the signal before it could operate.

One of the reasons why this is the best option for treating infant blindness is because it enables sub specialists to work with other providers in a cost effective and accessible manner.