Columbia Ophthalmology is taking the fight against the leading causes of blindness out of the traditional clinic and onto the streets of New York City. Columbia’s mobile tele-ophthalmology unit is soon to begin serving neighborhoods with populations at high-risk for eye disease. The mobile screening project strengthens the Department’s commitment to combating sight-threatening eye diseases and disorders by testing patients in local communities that are most vulnerable and transmitting health information in real time. In an ambitious move, the mobile screening unit is expanding its area of influence to more neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan and the scope of vision problems treated will quadruple.
ABOVE: Dr. Al-Aswad having a real-time conversation with a patient utilizing tele-ophthalmology technology.
Under the leadership of Associate Professor Of Ophthalmology and glaucoma expert Lama Al-Aswad, M.D., M.P.H., the staff of the mobile unit expects to perform free screenings for at least 2,000 people a year at locations in the Bronx, Washington Heights, and Harlem for signs of the four leading causes of blindness: glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Al-Aswad and her team will also screen patients for diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, all of which are common risk factors for eye disease. As the project progresses, the unit may also be deployed to New York’s other boroughs.
To learn more about January Glaucoma Awareness month, visit the National Eye Institute.