Grant Awarded for Mobile Ophthalmic Imaging Program

A man getting an eye exam

Dr. Evan (Jake) L. Waxman, MD, PhD, Director of UPMC Eye Center Mercy and Comprehensive Eye Service, and a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh, has won a $100,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) for the implementation of a mobile ophthalmic imaging program. The Eye & Ear Foundation helped submit the grant.

“The grant from the Pennsylvania Medical Society will enable UPMC Vision Institute to field eye care services to older adults with transportation and mobility issues and to share our experiences doing so with others,” Dr. Waxman said.

The program will utilize a fully equipped mobile eye exam room to provide an eye exam that includes a survey of vision-related symptoms, past ocular history including last eye exam, visual acuity, intraocular (IOP) measurement, and imaging. Patients identified as at risk for glaucoma, wet macular degeneration, or diabetic retinal swelling will have OCT imaging. The exam will take about 15 minutes per patient.

The project will partner with elder care facilities in Western PA within areas of high concentration of underserved and high-risk older adults with unmet care gaps to provide care to where they live. Examples include Vintage Senior Services, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, and UPMC Senior Communities. Staff at these facilities will select patients to be examined based on criteria provided by the program. Once the patient is examined, images will be uploaded to the UPMC electronic health record and forwarded to the UPMC telemedicine facility. Vision Institute physicians will interpret the images and generate a report documenting findings, diagnoses, and recommendations. The report will be communicated back to the patient, their PCP, and the facility. Patients, PCPs, and elder care facilities will be responsible for coordinating the referral process for patients who need further eye care services. Processes will be put in place to streamline making appointments with UPMC Vision Institute providers when needed.

PAMED awarded Innovation Grants to five members to fund projects that encourage, facilitate, recognize and reward innovative and creative approaches to the field of medicine. Grants were awarded through a competitive process requiring the submission of Letters of Intent and formal proposals.