Monitor Progression of AMD: There’s an App for That!

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness in people over 55 years old, affecting more than 9.1 million individuals in the United States.  Optometrists are on the front lines of detecting and managing this potentially devastating disease that robs people of their central vision.  In spite on advancements in treatment options, this is still a disease that needs to be monitored closely.

AmslerThe Amsler Grid has been a mainstay in determining the location and extent of macular damage.  Most of us have been doing this simple test in-office for years, and handing our macular disease patients a paper copy for home maintenance.  If you’re like me and often wonder how many of those cards end up on the bottom of a junk drawer, another option may be educating your patients about a free app that can be downloaded to their mobile phone.  One of the vision screening options on the EyeXam mobile app is the Macular Test, which allows patients to periodically perform home Amsler.  While performing the test, patients can indicate areas of scotoma or metamorphopsia by touching and drawing on the screen.  Touched areas are highlighted in red.  Results can be saved and even emailed to their doctor to monitor disease progression between scheduled visits.  From the clinical side, the convenience and real-time information creates opportunity for improved patient care and compliance.  From the business side, anything that allows us to stay connected with our patients between scheduled visits can be a great way to improve patient loyalty and compliance with follow-up visits.

As patients from all generations are gravitating toward mobile technology, remote monitoring of patients is predicted to significantly impact management of chronic disease.  Eric Topol, M.D., Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, says a consumer revolution will fundamentally change the way medicine is practiced.  Topol says the revolution will come as wearable sensors, smartphone apps, social networks, and whole-genome sequencing begin delivering “big data” to clinics, laboratories, and hospitals.  Data generated from these methods will influence the treatment and prevention of disease.

Remote patient monitoring is already impacting management of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and COPD.  Glooko is doing some interesting things with remote diabetes management.  In what ways will eye care adapt to this ever-changing environment?

About:  Steve Vargo, OD, MBA works in a group practice in Merrillville, In.  He is a frequent contributor to Review of Optometric Business, and a consultant to Global EyeVentures – developer of the EyeXam app.  He can be contacted at svargo@gmail.com.

Download the free EyeXam app.

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