RP Technology to Aid in Early Detection for Type 2 Diabetes and Retinopathy

Aboriginal people living in Canada are among the highest risk populations for type 2 diabetes and related complications.

While evidence suggested type 2 diabetes in adolescents is associated with severe and early onset of microvascular complications, including retinopathy, little is known about the number of vision health problems among northern Aboriginal youth with type 2 diabetes.

As recipients of a Senior Clinical Research Grant of the Retina Foundation of Canada, Principal Investigator Dr. Shelley Spurr along with Co-Investigator Dr. Jill Bally, University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing and Collaborators: Dr. S. Khan and Dr. L. Butler will conduct research regarding the possibility of using Remote Presence (RP) robotics as a new approach for earlier, accessible and convenient screening and referral for patients and families.

RP is a state-of-the-art robotics and technology that can accommodate an ophthalmoscope (an instrument used to examine the eye) to screen for visual changes related to diabetes. When in use, health care professionals who are located in a remote center can be viewed on the robot’s monitor. High powered cameras and monitors positioned on the RP robot allows the off-site specialist to maneuver the robot freely around the space, communicate directly, and conduct assessments and health screening in real time with the patient. By bringing the ophthalmologist to the patient, it is anticipated that the current standard of care will be improved at a lower cost to the individual and the health care system.

The immediate outcome of this pilot project will be the screening and early detection for type 2 diabetes and retinopathy in young people living in the north. This project will provide a much needed understanding of the prevalence of retinopathy in northern Saskatchewan youth, and the usefulness of RP technology as a tool to improve the accessibility and affordability of vision care in the north.

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