Telemedicine for Retinopathy of Prematurity Diagnosis: Evaluation and Challenges

Grace M. Richter, Steven L. Williams, Justin Starren, John T. Flynn, Michael F. Chiang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a vasoproliferative disorder affecting low birth weight infants. Although timely diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of severe complications, ROP remains a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. Limitations of current disease management strategies include extensive travel and logistical coordination requirements for ophthalmologists and neonatologists, decreasing availability of adequately trained ophthalmologists at the point of care, variability in how retinal findings are diagnosed and documented, and a growing need for ROP care worldwide. Store-and-forward telemedicine is an emerging technology by which medical data are captured for subsequent interpretation by a remote expert. This has potential to improve accessibility, quality, and cost of ROP management. In this article, we summarize the current evaluation data on applications of telemedicine for ROP, particularly involving the diagnostic accuracy and reliability of remote image interpretation by experts. We also address challenges such as the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine, and highlight potential barriers to implementation of these systems. Understanding these principles is essential to determine future directions in research and development of telemedicine systems for ROP, as well as for other ophthalmic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-685
Number of pages15
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • blindness
  • diagnostic imaging
  • diagnostic techniques and procedures
  • medical informatics
  • retina
  • retinopathy of prematurity
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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