The Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (RIO) has become the first hospital in the government sector in the State to acquire the sophisticated Ophthalmic Electrophysiology unit, which, through a battery of tests will help in accurate clinical diagnosis of a range of retinal and optical nerve diseases.

The electrophysiology unit, set up at a cost of Rs.28 lakh and a tele ophthalmology unit at Rs.68 lakh, were commissioned at the RIO on Wednesday by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy.

Electrophysiologic testing is useful in diagnosing a variety of inherited retinal diseases, toxic drug exposure, intraocular foreign bodies, and retinal vascular occlusions. Through a series of tests like electroretinography (ERG), electroculography (EOG), focal macular electroretinography (FERG), ophthalmologists can assess the functioning of the visual pathway from the retina to the brain and can reach an accurate clinical diagnosis. The acquisition of such modern diagnostic facilities will make the RIO a comprehensive eye care centre, Superintendent V. Sahasranamam said.

The tele ophthalmology unit will help the RIO link with hospitals in the periphery and other districts and it can offer consultancy through video conferencing, especially since a chunk of the patients coming to the Institute are from the periphery. As part of the project, the RIO will acquire a mobile tele-ophthalmic unit with satellite connectivity, which can be used to deliver ophthalmic care in hilly or tribal areas that are not easily accessible. “During medical camps, doctors in the mobile unit can relay images over the satellite to the RIO centre for expert opinion,” Dr. Sahasranamam said.

The Health Minister also laid the foundation stone for a new casualty block, which is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs.50 lakh. An operation theatre in the hospital, which was renovated using NRHM funds and a new lift was also inaugurated on the occasion. Shashi Tharoor, MP; V. Surendran Pillai, MLA; Health Secretary Usha Titus; Director of RIO P.S. Girija Devi; and senior Health Department and NRHM officials; were present.