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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 55-59

Teleophthalmology in Saudi Arabia

Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Hatem A Kalantan
Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjopt.sjopt_189_22

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Teleophthalmology is the provision of ophthalmic care using digital medical equipment and telecommunications technology. While teleophthalmology has been practiced since the 1990s, it became a crucial medical service during the COVID-19 pandemic when doctors were required to make diagnoses from a distance. This was certainly the case in Saudi Arabia, a relatively large country with limited medical workforce to meet demands, yet a high prevalence of diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts which are considered leading causes of visual impairment. In response to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health issued scientific instruction manuals and guidelines for health-care providers which paved the way for increased use of digital technologies and solutions to mitigate the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic served to accelerate the use of virtual ophthalmology in Saudi Arabia with the most common teleophthalmology applications being teleconsultation and disease-specific applications such as diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. Although some challenges relating to implementing teleophthalmology in Saudi Arabia remain, it is felt that there are great opportunities to expand the use of telemedicine in ophthalmology in this country.

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