Study: Diagnosing on Slit Lamp Robot Just as Effective As In-Person

Researchers at Bascom Palmer confirm the ability to diagnose using the remote control device.

The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020, being held virtually from November 13 to 15, 2020. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in ophthalmology. Check back for more from the AAO 2020.

Researchers are making swift moves to compensate for the social distancing necessary to keep safe in the era of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). An ophthalmic investigative team at Bascom Palmer in Miami had the pandemic in mind when validating a novel, real-time, remotely controlled slit lamp robot (SLR) to assess the anterior segments of emergency room patients, according to a poster presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020 meeting.

The researchers gathered corneal, conjunctival, and anterior segment features of 42 eyes from 21 patients presenting to the emergency room for “red eyes.” The findings were assessed by an ophthalmologist on site and by an ophthalmologist in a remote location using the SLR. 

The researchers’ findings included corneal foreign body (13.3%), laceration (6.7%), corneal ulcer (20%), iritis (13.3%), and pterygium (13.3%). The ophthalmologist using the SLR was able to identify a diagnosis at comparable rates to the in-person clinician. “The intraclass correlation coefficient between the quantitative parameters assessed by the 2 ophthalmologists was 0.9, indicating excellent correlation,” the study explains. 

Researchers say this correlation indicates that corneal and anterior segment features can indeed be accurately assessed using the SLR. 

The study concludes that “the SLR [is] a useful device to remotely examine patients in real time and reduce exposure during a viral pandemic.”

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Cabot F, Cavuoto K, Alfonso E, Yoo S, Parel J. Assessment of anterior segment features using a novel, real-time, remotely operated slit lamp robot. Presented at: American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020 Annual Meeting; November 13-15, 2020. Abstract PO222.