Ana Carolina Carneiro on behalf of Saúde, Alegria e Sustentabilidade Brazil (SAS Brazil)
To utilize telemedicine in screening 2000 diabetic patients who do not have access to appropriate eyecare services
Brazil’s public healthcare system is challenged by limited resources and inadequate geographical distribution. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed additional barriers in providing healthcare in Brazil.
This strategy aims to reduce visual impairment and blindness from diabetic retinopathy, which according to the Vision Loss Expert Group, is an eye condition that is still increasing in prevalence globally.
In doing so, SAS Brasil have recognised telescreening for diabetic retinopathy as a proven, effective and costless way to identify and refer patients for appropriate treatment. The project is estimated to screen over 2000 diabetic people who currently do not have access to proper eyecare. The initiative will use XOVA funding to acquire portable retinographers, to train local teams and to transport telemedicine equipment between sites. Staff will not only promptly refer patients with sight threatening conditions, but will also educate patients about their ocular, dermatologic, endocrinologic and nutritional health.
Furthermore, in order to ensure sustainability, permanent health care structures and facilities are currently being built, to provide additional testing and to monitor patients long-term.
Project Update: Since the initiation of this project, telescreening was carried out on 609 diabetic patients using the Eyer portable equipment. Fundus photography examination was performed on all participants and the images were evaluated by experienced graders. 98 patients were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy (DR) and a significant association was observed between the incidence of DR and time since diabetes diagnosis. Patients diagnosed with DR were referred for face-to-face evaluation with the institution’s ophthalmology team, to receive more detailed guidance and referral for specific treatment. All patients received healthcare guidance for diabetes and were educated on the importance of annual retinography and good glycemic control. Following face-to-face assessment, patients were advised to undergo further telehealth consultations with dermatologists, endocrinologists, and nutritionists.