Coming soon to an airport, shopping mall or school near you: Globe-shaped units where people can undergo a series of tests that will screen for myriad conditions, from glaucoma to near-sightedness.
The company behind the concept, GlobeChek, was founded by two Florida ophthalmologists who hope to reach individuals who don’t get routine eye exams—and in turn, help those who may have undiagnosed conditions get treatment.
The mission of GlobeChek is to provide convenient, affordable access to comprehensive eye screening exams. Additionally, one of its main goals is to prevent unnecessary blindness, says company CEO William Mallon, MD. “Fifty-percent of all blindness is preventable if detected early. There is no reason in modern times that people should be going blind from preventable causes. We want to make sure nobody falls through the cracks.”
The GlobeChek vision system tests include autorefraction, a non-contact tonometry reading, high-resolution photography, fundus photography and optical coherence tomography imaging of the optic nerve and retina. Each globe-shaped unit will be equipped with a staff person, Dr. Mallon said.
Once the tests are completed, the information is sent to a reading center, where a doctor will interpret the results. Patients get the report in 24 hours, which will include a list of recommended providers in a patient’s designated home zip code area. Doctors can be part of the GlobeChek referring network for free, Dr. Mallon says.
The GlobeChek units would be placed in high-traffic areas such as shopping centers and airports. A mobile version is also in the works that would take GlobeChek to sites such as businesses, schools and nursing homes.
Drs. Mallon and GlobeChek president and COO, Adam Katz, MD, have partnered with Columbia University, where the school is using Globechek as part of its telemedicine studies.
GlobeChek units may be popping up as early as this fall, Dr. Mallon says. One slight delay is due to one of the GlobeChek’s testing devices, the TRK-2P Auto Kerato-refractor/tonometer (TopCon), which is still awaiting final FDA approval. In the interim, GlobeChek is working to ensure all of its necessary certifications are in place for the official launch, Dr. Mallon says.
While some doctors in the eye care profession may view this type of screening in a negative light, Dr. Mallon stresses that he believes telemedicine should be embraced.
“This is the future and it’s going to provide us a better way to take care of our patients. It’s going to provide access to more people who need our care. So rather than worry about it cutting into what we make our how we are going to make a living, what we have to do is embrace this and realize it’s going to improve the quality of health care for people, and it’s going to actually make us busier,” Dr. Mallon says.