Telemedicine for Preoperative Evaluation of Upper Eyelid Malposition: Reliability of Diagnosis and Surgical Plan

Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2022 Jan 13. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0000000000002117. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Outpatient visits and surgeries for nonurgent indications in ophthalmology have intermittently been restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine services have rapidly gained acceptance during this period, and could improve patient access for routine oculoplastic evaluations in the future. The objective of this study is to investigate interobserver and intraobserver reliability of eyelid and brow position assessment and surgical plan when comparing photography-based and face-to-face evaluation.

METHODS: This was an observational study conducted at a single academic center. Thirty randomly selected patients who had completed an in-office evaluation for chief complaint of “drooping eyelids” between June 2019 and March 2020 were included. Virtual assessment of brow position, dermatochalasis, blepharoptosis, and margin-reflex distance 1 was performed by 2 oculoplastic surgeons based on external photographs, and a surgical plan was formulated. Fraction of agreement and Cohen’s κ were determined to evaluate reliability of the virtual assessment compared to face-to-face examination.

RESULTS: For 60 eyes from 30 study subjects, diagnostic reliability for observer A was near perfect for brow ptosis, substantial for blepharoptosis and moderate for dermatochalasis (κ = 0.86, 0.67, and 0.57, respectively); for observer B, reliability was moderate for brow and blepharoptosis and substantial for dermatochalasis (0.47, 0.59, and 0.79). Fraction of agreement for blepharoptosis was 94% in eyes where the eyelid margin was visible, and 66% in eyes where the eyelid margin was obscured by overhanging skin. Virtual margin-reflex distance 1 measurements were highly correlated with those obtained face to face (r = 0.77, p < 0.01). Fraction of agreement for surgical plan after virtual examination by observer A/B, respectively, was 100%/94% for brow lift, 90%/87% for blepharoptosis repair and 83%/83% for functional upper blepharoplasty.

CONCLUSIONS: Virtual evaluation of upper eyelid and brow malposition can be performed with acceptable reliability. Co-existing dermatochalasis or brow ptosis may require special photographic technique or video examination to ensure an appropriate diagnosis. A photography-based preliminary surgical plan offers a viable alternative to face-to-face encounters.

PMID:35030149 | DOI:10.1097/IOP.0000000000002117