The Importance of Gradeability in Fundus Photography

Fundus Photography

Historically, fundus photography is performed when a patient visits their ophthalmologist. Fundus photography is used to identify eye pathologies, such as diabetic retinopathy, before they become detrimental to a patient’s vision.

But what if patients could get these important screenings done at their general practitioner’s office? Or in their own home? And what if the ability to have this preventative screening performed in more accessible places meant catching a disease early enough to prevent blindness because of the improved convenience of the test and the gradeability rating of the imagery? 

Read on to learn about the importance of fundus photography, the gradeability of fundus images, and how technology can help any size or type of healthcare organization implement diabetic retinal exams into the checkups of their diabetic patients in order to catch eye pathologies earlier and prevent blindness.

How is Fundus Photography Done?

Fundus photography is performed with a special camera tool known as a fundus camera.  There are many different types of cameras available, from tabletop cameras for doctor’s offices to portable cameras meant for in-home evaluation organizations. 

After a practice or an organization has chosen a camera that fits their needs, the actual fundus photography process is rather simple. Many new fundus cameras are handheld, so all the patient has to do is look straight into a lens attached to the fundus camera. A flash of light indicates the capturing of a fundus photograph.

One of the many benefits of a handheld camera is that the camera itself can be moved to different locations easily and can accommodate patients with unique needs, such as those needing to receive in-home care. Furthermore, these cameras can be operated by any healthcare provider who received training. This significantly improves the ability of healthcare organizations to quickly, safely, and efficiently provide annual diabetic retinal exams to underserved diabetic populations

What Does Fundus Photography Show?

A fundus photograph is a photo taken of the retina with a field of view of 40 degrees or more. This photograph includes the fundus (also known as the posterior pole), macula, optic disc, vasculature, and the interior surface of the eye.

Why is Gradeability Important?

Gradeability significantly affects if pathology can be identified in a fundus image. Therefore, high gradeability means an image has been taken correctly and clearly so as to allow a physician to interpret (or grade) the image to detect conditions such as diabetic retinopathy. When the image can be interpreted it’s known as “gradable.” 

High gradeability is a key component of diagnosing diabetic retinopathy at any stage of the disease, and factors such as cameras, technology, and training can all be determining factors in successful fundus photography. 

If an image is completely ungradeable, then a patient must either return to their physician and get another fundus image taken, or follow up with an eye care specialist for a fully dilated exam. Both options waste valuable time and resources for both patient and provider. 

Who Can Perform Fundus Photography?

Any employee who receives the correct training can be a camera operator, further improving the ability of underserved diabetic populations to receive quick, safe, and efficient annual diabetic retinal exams.

Furthermore, with the right fundus camera and IRIS’s digital retinal imaging software solution, any physician’s office, lab, pharmacy, in-home health evaluation organization, Medicare Advantage plan provider, hospital, or health system can perform fundus photography and receive quick and accurate diagnoses by a licensed professional for their patients. 

IRIS’s software solution uses proprietary image enhancement technology to automatically enhance the fundus images taken by an organization before the images are evaluated by a licensed provider for interpretation. The enhancement technology strips images of their color and illuminates the vasculature, giving grading physicians the ability to more readily see pathology in an image. Both these enhanced and original images are sent to the IRIS Reading Center, a group of interpreting providers that review uploaded images and assess them for diabetic retinopathy. 

Customers using the IRIS solution typically see an average gradeability of 95%. 

Fundus Photography for Diabetic Retinopathy

Since its inception, IRIS has helped save the sight of over 110,000 individuals. Leveraging IRIS’s digital retinal imaging software solution for annual diabetic retinal exams is one of the most impactful things physicians can do to actually prevent blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy.

IRIS’s solution helps providers and payors close care gaps seen frequently in diabetic patient populations by allowing in-home health organizations and Medicare Advantage Plans to perform fundus photography in a patient’s home. This can boost compliance rates with the number of routine diabetic retinopathy screenings.

Fundus Photography with Interpretation

IRIS isn’t just a software solution. The IRIS Reading Center (IRC) is a group of over 120 board-certified eye care providers who remotely diagnose pathology using the uploaded fundus images.  This widespread network of IRC providers dramatically increases accessibility to retinal image interpretation so that exams can be performed in all 50 states.

Adopting the IRIS solution means that any healthcare organization, such as healthcare systems, in-home health providers, and Medicare Advantage Plans, has the ability to take fundus images quickly, safely, and with high gradeability ratings, allowing for more accurate interpretations. The end result is that more patients can receive preventative retinal exams, which will hopefully lead to fewer cases of late-stage diabetic retinopathy.

Are you ready to see how IRIS can transform your practice and allow you to give better care to your patients? Connect with us to learn more today.



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