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University of Strathclyde and NHS Forth Valley harness 5G for eye examinations

08/10/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

University of Strathclyde and NHS Forth Valley have tested a system for tele-examinations of an eye using a 5G smartphone.

One eye

It uses a live video feed to securely connect doctors, opticians and patient through a mixture of 3D printed technology developed at Strathclyde and the Scottish Government funded Attend Anywhere video consultation platform.

The process involves connecting a smartphone to a portable slit lamp, which emits an intense beam of light to provide a live image of the eye.

An examination was streamed live last week to NHS Forth Valley from a conference in Edinburgh. It enabled Dr Iain Livingston, consultant at the trust, to carry out a virtual examination.

He said: “I was excited to see the first ultra-high resolution tele-ophthalmology call via the 5G network.

“Keeping pace with these technological advancements means we can send and receive remarkably high definition video referrals which are particularly useful for relaying fine detail during a remote eye examination.”

Turning point

While there is currently no plan for a full deployment of the system, Peter Thomas, director of digital innovation and consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “This demonstration marked a significant turning point in tele-ophthalmology as we were able to deliver such detailed images in real time, using readily available equipment.”

A tele-ophthalmology network developed by the university and NHS Forth Valley in an earlier project has become standard in the area and is now being piloted by other Scottish health boards.

Image by SeRVe Photography, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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