Purpose: To determine the feasibility of remote diagnostic screening for cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis among HIV patients in northern Thailand. Design: Prospective, observational cross-sectional study. Methods: One hundred eighty-two eyes from 94 consecutive patients with HIV seen in 2008 and 2009 at a tertiary university-based medical center were photographed using a digital retinal camera. Individual and composite images were uploaded to a secure web site. Three expert graders accessed the electronic images and graded each image for signs of CMV retinitis. Results of remote expert grading were compared with on-site patient examination by local expert ophthalmologists. Results: On-site ophthalmologists diagnosed CMV retinitis in 89 (48.9%) of 182 eyes. Trained ophthalmic photographers obtained digital retinal images for all 182 eyes. As compared with the on-site examinations, the sensitivity for detecting CMV retinitis by remote readers using composite retinal images ranged from 89% to 91%. The specificity for detecting CMV retinitis by remote readers ranged from 85% to 88%. Intrarater reliability was high, with each grader achieving a κ value of 0.93. Interrater reliability among the 3 graders also was high, with a κ value of 0.86. Conclusions: Remote diagnostic screening for CMV retinitis among HIV-positive patients may prove to be a valuable tool in countries where the burden of HIV exceeds the capacity of the local eye care providers to screen for ocular opportunistic infections.
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