The patients are in the Dr. Ayres de Menezes Hospital in Sao Tome while the ophthalmologist Ana Almeida is in IMVF’s headquarters in Lisbon. With approximately 5.000 kilometers in between, with a laptop, internet connection and a webcam an ophthalmology consultation takes place through TELEYE®, a pioneering technological solution that allows a real-time complete ophthalmological evaluation.
During the ophthalmology consultation through telemedicine – which took place on February 4 2015 between Sao Tome and Lisbon – the ophthalmologist Ana Almeida guided patients to the realization of several ophthalmological exams, through the direct visualization of different eye structures, in order to obtain a diagnostic.
The TELEYE®’s presentation was attended, in Lisbon, by the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Luís Campos Ferreira, the Ambassador of Sao Tome and Principe in Portugal, Luís Viegas, the Vice-President of Camões – Institute for Cooperation and Language, I.P., Gonçalo Marques, an Administrator of PT Innovation, Alcino Lavrador and an Administrator of IMVF, Carlos Telles de Freitas. Simultaneously, in Sao Tome, the Minister for Health and Social Affairs of Sao Tome and Principe, Maria de Jesus dos Santos Trovoada, the Ambassador of Portugal in Sao Tome and Principe, Paula Silva, IMVF’s President, Paulo Telles de Freitas and IMVF’s Project Director, Ahmed Zaky, together with Portuguese ophthalmologists in mission, were also present in the presentation.
“TELEYE® is an integrated solution that links six ophthalmologic diagnostic instruments – a Slit Lamp, a Retinographer, an Auto-refractometer/Keratometer, a Tonometer and a High Definition Camera – with the telemedicine platform Medigraf®. It is a major breakthrough.” says Ahmed Zaky. The patient’s eye images obtained by different ophthalmological exams have the quality, accuracy and precision required to obtain a reliable clinical diagnostic, at distance. “We have managed to integrate multiple devices on the telemedicine platform. Several medical specialties already use this technology, such as cardiology and orthopedics, and now it is the turn of ophthalmology.” says IMVF’s Projects’ Director.
This solution, installed in Sao Tome and Principe – country where there are no ophthalmologists and where there are about 3.000 people with visual impairment and blindness – allows the assessment of visual health in real time. Thus, the Sao Tomean patient, supported by a local health professional, is consulted by medical experts that in Portugal – through their computers or laptops with internet access – receive images captured by such equipment, through the Medigraf®’s telemedicine platform.
More than 80% of the blindness causes are preventable
“The goal of this platform is to assist the visually impaired, whom otherwise would have to travel to another country, most probably in a precarious situation, waiting for medical consultations – consultations that may now be carried out, at distance, in their own country and with the scientific and ophthalmological quality as if they were carried out in other country.” claims IMVF’s President, Paulo Telles de Freitas.
It is an essential tool to screen, prevent and treat many diseases – refractive error, cataracts, glaucoma, pediatric pathologies, ocular trauma, infectious pathologies and retinopathies, which cause blindness and/or visual impairment – offering a quick, accurate reaction and therapeutic orientation. TELEYE® is also a valuable tool for surgical follow-up and for the continuous theoretical and practical training of health professionals in developing countries.
According to Ahmed Zaky “There are, in the world, around 300 million people with visual impairment or blindness, being its majority in developing countries. 80% of these diseases are treatable. (…) We want other countries to start using this integrated solution. It is a widely replicable solution that will overcome economic and geographic barriers to healthcare assistance, bringing the ophthalmologist to developing countries where 90% of people with blindness and visual impairment live”.
The TELEYE® derives of a partnership between IMVF, PT Innovation and other partners in the field of ophthalmology technologies within iSEE – a project for the prevention and treatment of eye diseases in Sao Tome and Principe. iSEE is integrated in the Health for All program, implemented in the last 27 years by IMVF in Sao Tome and Principe in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Sao Tome and Principe. The project is co-financed by the Portuguese Cooperation and supported by the Portuguese Directorate General for Health and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.