Primary glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy screening for underserved populations

Telemedicine can have a significant impact on the health of underserved people, including improved eye care of


residents. Glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy cause most of the preventable blindness in the

United States

, and early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90 percent of patients. While many academic and service organizations have undertaken diabetic retinopathy screening using telemedicine, the cost of specialized digital retinal cameras, software, and personnel for performing retinal exams has kept retinopathy detection out of reach for many community clinics. 


UC Berkeley optometry professor Jorge Cuadros has delivered primary retinopathy for over ten years and has developed EyePACS , an open access system for clinical communication in eye care that has been used for teleconsultations, retinopathy screening, home care, education, digital grand rounds, and research with over 14,000 patients.  While EyePACS has made significant cost gains, overall costs must decrease to make current screening models affordable to the large number of smaller clinics.


As part of the CITRIS’s healthcare initiative, Cuadros proposes to validate new, inexpensive retinal imaging devices and computer applications against current methods to detect sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and to detect and manage glaucoma in 100,000 patients in 100 community clinics throughout


over the next two years.  The proposed work could produce a model for ubiquitous deployment of low cost systems for detection and treatment of sight-threatening conditions in community clinics and other locations.  The impact of this work would be significant:  it could eliminate up to 90 percent of blindness from diabetes and glaucoma, problems that disproportionately affect underserved, rural, and poor populations.