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Norwich doctor's world first eye test - using a 5G smartphone

PUBLISHED: 12:40 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:09 03 October 2019

Chrishan Gunasekera, ophthalmology registrar at NNUH and NHS clinical entrepreneur, undertaking the telemedicine eye examination of Peter Thomas, consultant ophthalmologist and director of digital innovation at Moorfields Eye Hospital in Bedford. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich University hospital

Chrishan Gunasekera, ophthalmology registrar at NNUH and NHS clinical entrepreneur, undertaking the telemedicine eye examination of Peter Thomas, consultant ophthalmologist and director of digital innovation at Moorfields Eye Hospital in Bedford. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich University hospital

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A Norwich doctor has become the first in the world to take part in a virtual eye test - using a 5G smartphone.

Chrishan Gunasekera, ophthalmology registrar at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and NHS clinical entrepreneur. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich University HospitalChrishan Gunasekera, ophthalmology registrar at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and NHS clinical entrepreneur. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

A team of doctors, including Chrishan Gunasekera, an ophthalmology registrar at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), carried out the telemedicine eye examination in London.

It was live streamed to consultant ophthalmologist Iain Livingstone, from NHS Forth Valley, at a conference in Edinburgh in 4K resolution.

Mr Gunasekera said advances in mobile phone technology would help revolutionise healthcare and the development of a 5G network and high quality imaging would enable ophthalmologists to carry out more virtual clinics.

It was made possible by the Attend Anywhere platform, which offers a high-quality video so the smallest details of disease can be spotted by an ophthalmologist who may be miles away.

Mr Gunasekera carried out the eye examination on Peter Thomas, consultant ophthalmologist and director of digital innovation at Moorfields Eye Hospital in Bedford.

He said: "It's been amazing to utilise the full resolution of one of the latest smartphone cameras to perform a remote eye exam. This will really be transformative to patient care. There is no doubt that this is just the start and this is the future. This is a very useful tool to establish what is going on and for getting a quick diagnosis and referral to the right treatment.

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"It fits in with today's narrative with 5G being very useful for the future of healthcare. There are 2,000 eye doctors in the UK - it takes many years to train and the number of patients is increasing."

Mr Gunasekera previously helped develop an app at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds enabling virtual diagnosis for patients arriving at A&E with an eye emergency.

He is developing a similar initiative at the NNUH.

Teleconsultation services will be launched at Moorfields via the Attend Anywhere platform as part of an NHS Improvement pilot over the next few months.

Mr Livingstone said: "Keeping pace with these technological advancements means we can send and receive remarkably high definition video referrals which are particularly useful for relaying fine detail during a remote eye examination."

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