PURPOSE: To avoid significant loss of vision in employees, the working population could be examined with ophthalmic methods as OCT and IOP measurement for detection of serious eye diseases. The value of "virtual eye clinics" in occupational preventive medicine has been previously shown. We used a telemedical approach to gather epidemiological information about prevalence of eye diseases such as glaucoma, ocular hypertension, hypertensive retinopathy, diabetic retinopathy, epiretinal membrane, AMD, adult vitelliform maculopathy, cystoid maculopathy, choroidal nevi, and macular drusen. METHODS: The study included 931 people ranging from age 39 to 65 years. Using a telemedical approach, all medical examinations and the ophthalmic examination were performed by a technician using an optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and a pulse air tonometer. The data were saved in the web-based patient chart MedStage® of the Talkingeyes® Collaboration Network. RESULTS: We found a high prevalence of eye diseases in a group representative for the working-age population by telemedical examination. 13.47% of the workers examined showed ocular findings necessitating treatment or control by an ophthalmologist, including ocular hypertension (5.7%), hypertensive retinopathy with loss of temporal retinal nerve fiber thickness (2.3%), epiretinal membrane (1.07%), glaucoma (0.97%), age-related macular degeneration and adult vitelliform maculopathy (0.53%), and diabetic retinopathy (0.2%). Two of the examined persons presented ocular findings requiring urgent treatment to prevent serious vision loss. CONCLUSION: Using a telemedical approach, we collected epidemiological information about prevalence of eye diseases in the working-age population. Virtual eye clinics in occupational preventive medicine are a useful method to improve sight and reduce vision loss of workers by reducing travel time and inconvenience associated with an in-person appointment with an ophthalmologist.
Interdisciplinary Center for Preventive Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schwabachanlage 6, 91054, Erlangen, Germany. Elisabeth.Grau@gmx.net.Full article