Internet Ophthalmology
Serving the Ophthalmic Community Established 1995

IO's Frequently Asked Questions

  • Introduction
  • Purpose
  • OPHTHAL: What is the format and Why?
  • Where is OPHTHAL?
  • When? How often will I receive mail?
  • Legal Issues
  • What other services does IO offer?
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    This is the official FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for Internet Ophthalmology (IO). The purpose of a FAQ is to outline our objectives and to answer many of those "frequently asked questions". Most questions about how the service functions will be explained in this document. It will be updated periodically. If you feel any information should be added to this FAQ, please email us so it can be included in the next update.

    Internet Ophthalmology is a non-profit, charitable corporation formed in the State of Michigan specifically for the education of eyecare providers. We charge no fees. Tax deductible donations are accepted but not expected. Funding is limited and efforts to gain grants are underway. If there is a specific charitable foundation or institution you think may be interested in supporting our mission, please let us know.


    The primary goals are simple.

    1. To promote active discussions and dissemination of materials specifically for the use and education of the ophthalmic community.

    2. To take an active role in multimedia education over the internet.

    3. To advance and promote this new media as an excellent method for continuing medical education.

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    What is the format and Why?

    Initially we planned to offer information in a multiple choice "question and answer" format to help prepare individuals for the American Board of Ophthalmology's Written Qualifying Examination (WQE). After much discussion, the ultimate reason for diverging from this modality was simple. It was not an effective way to teach ophthalmic principles and practices to students and practitioners of ophthalmology. It would also restrict the focus of the group to those persons currently studying for the Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP) examination or the WQE.

    Internet Ophthalmology is meant to be a multi-user, interactive service on the internet. The hallmark format is the Case Presentation. Through these case presentations, the participants are exposed to patient management, clinical options and decision making. Different approaches to management are presented in follow-up posts on OPHTHAL, both as email and on the web. Contributions to OPHTHAL are made in a professional manner. They reflect the desire to foster an environment of learning, to expose the students and practitioners of ophthalmology to different viewpoints and to update all on the currently accepted standards of care.

    There are also summaries of current papers outlining important advances in the literature - The Ophthalmology Review Journal. We will send via email Clinical Alerts pertinent to Ophthalmology. Free Medline links are included for convenience purposes. Methods for acquiring CME credits for participating will be investigated. With support from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, ASCRS and individual academic ophthalmology departments, the Internet media will continue to grow and new services will flourish.

    The OPHTHAL LISTSERV is moderated to coordinate the OPHTHAL-WWW interface and to keep the discussions clinically oriented. To post a message, you must be an OPHTHAL subscriber. LISTSERV will automatically bounce your message if your email address does not precisely match with your registered address. Ophthalmic question and answer sessions intended for the public can be found in Usenet/Netnews newsgroups already (eg. OPHTHAL is not a telemedicine service. No fees are charged.

    The moderators will act to ensure that the original goals of the service, mainly education, are adhered to. As multimedia and the internet become further entwined, the moderators will incorporate these new formats, update this FAQ and show the participants how to access this information properly. Any ophthalmologists wishing to contribute as participants, authors, editors etc. will be welcome.

    Photos will not be distributed via LISTSERV due to excess bandwidth needs and the variability in mail servers. If you wish to include a clinical photo, video or other multimedia clip, please email the moderators. We will make your photo available via the web and through our anonymous FTP server.

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    Where is OPHTHAL?


  • Word Wide Web


    LISTSERV is a commercial product of LSOFT . There are many imitations of LISTSERV, but no other e-mail product matches the quality and functionality LISTSERV provides. It is the Cadillac of email list management server software systems. This is the software we use to run OPHTHAL. The list is based in Buffalo, N.Y. on the servers of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

    Posts to the list are sent to:

  • Queries about the list are sent to:

  • There will always be a LISTSERV email component for those who only have access to email.

    Signing on to the LISTSERV.

    There are two ways to sign on to the Listserv.

    1. Form based via the web.

    2. Traditional email. To receive IO via LISTSERV send email to Please add the following in the body of the text (anything in the "Subject:" line will be ignored):

      SUB OPHTHAL Firstname Lastname Title City, State/Country

      For example:

      SUB OPHTHAL John Smith, MD Buffalo, New York

      LISTSERV will respond automatically with detailed instructions by email.

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    If you are here, you are on the Web!

    This Internet Ophthalmology World Wide Web server has been active since Febuary 2,1995. Feel free to browse around. You must have a username and password to enter the clinical discussion area. This provides a modicum of security for the clinical discussants.

    In order to co-ordinate the email to web OPHTHAL-WWW interface, all posts need to have the subject line formatted correctly. The subject line should begin with the specialty area (in ALL CAPS) followed by a colon. After this, your subject is added.


    Subject: PEDS: Lost/Slipped Muscle

    Lines in bold are added by the user. The address given in the "To:" line, is the address for posting email messages to the entire list. The address in the "From:" line must match your address as registered on OPHTHAL, otherwise the listserv will bounce your message without even reading it. The "Subject:" line requires the most attention. If the TOPIC: is not added correctly, the message will not be posted to the correct forum. Only the prefix "Re:" is allowed before your TOPIC: designation.

    Once you get the hang of this format, it is easy. You will also be given direct access to the list for posting. Your messages will be delivered in email format as soon as they arrive without going through a moderator. (Web pages are updated automatically throughout the day as a message is received.)

    When? How often will I receive mail?

    This information is only important to those who access OPHTHAL via the OPHTHAL LISTSERV

    The OPHTHAL posts can be received as a "Digest" (one email per day) or individually. If you choose the latter, the messages will be delivered throughout the day as they are approved. Most moderators however approve messages only once or twice a day. Hence the convenience of the Digest form of OPHTHAL is recommended. Alternatively, you can check this website for new messages as these pages are updated automatically.

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    Legal Issues

    In other areas of the internet "telemedicine" is becoming popular. Malpractice issues and the Internet are currently being raised in the U.S. The most important issue to date revolves around the practice of medicine across state lines; when the "consultant" is not licensed to practice medicine in the state where the "recipient" resides. Physician consultations over the internet are regulated at the state level. Please consult an attorney if you wish to provide medical information for a fee to patients or to other physicians. We at Internet Ophthalmology prohibit such interactions through our service.

    Some points of interest regarding Internet Ophthalmology:
  • Internet Ophthalmology is not a telemedicine service. It is an non-profit, charitable corporation devoted to education.

  • Case presentations are anonymous. Patient identification data is prohibited.
    At a minimum, standard protocols used for case presentations should be adhered to. One should avoid identifying the patient in any way which may lead to a confidentiality breach in the doctor-patient relationship. For instance, a patient's initials, town, hospital record number, actual dates of treatment,etc. should be left out if they have no clinical significance. In keeping with this, we reserve the right to alter any clinical photos.

  • The OPHTHAL forum is not open to the public.
    Questions from the public should be directed to the newsgroup Many experts monitor this newsgroup and will respond over the newsgroup or by private email.

  • The posts on OPHTHAL are the opinions of the original author and in no way reflect those of Internet Ophthalmology, OPHTHAL, SUNY@Buffalo or any affiliated officers of these organizations. In fact the original authors are the legal copyright holders of their post, not OPHTHAL or Internet Ophthalmology acording to U.S. law.

  • No one shall use any email message or photograph from IO for commercial purposes unless they have received written permission from the legal copyright holder, the original poster in most cases. This should hold true whether or not an official copyright has been completely processed at the time of posting. It should be our goal to encourage the dissemination of information, rather than restrict it with legal formalities. Our goal is educational, please use common sense and courtesy when incorporating these clinical photos in your slide collections.
  • Are there any medicolegal experts who would like to expand on these issues for the FAQ? Please send us email.

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    Other Services

    Some of our projects have been very successful, some not. As our membership base increased, there were certain functions other groups wanted to develop. For example, our links section was the most complete on the internet. This service was transferred to the AAO's website in 1996. We have offered every part of this company at one time or another to other groups so that it may continue to expand and fluorish. Our only requirement was that the service remain non-commercial, or at least part of a not-for-profit enterprise. Most folks out there think the internet is their gold mine. We don't. We see it as the basis for an education revolution. A few organizations have attempted to duplicate these services or offer similar products. We wish them all well. This media represents a paradigm shift in our thinking about information. The more people developing useful outlets the better. Here are a list of services we currently offer.

    The current offerings are:
  • The Ophthalmology Discussion Group
  • The Ophthalmology Review Journal
  • Internet Courses
    We are evangalists for digital education.
    We encourage each academic institution to transform their teaching programs into an internet based learning tool. To many of our international colleagues the Internet will become their best source of knowledge. The on-line world has the power to change the way we learn. Imagine a complete database of lectures that can be viewed at will, paused, rewound, fast forwarded at any time from anywhere. This is possible today, if only the material were in digital form. As an example in 1998, we recorded Botox, an educational on-line seminar supported by a grant from Alcon. Our leaders helped launched the AAO's Technology Pavilion at the Annual Meeting, the AAO's on-line education center and started the process of having each and every Academy product and lecture digitized to be made available for download. Some of these projects will never be completed, simply ongoing...

    Please consider making every presentation, talk, or paper you create extendable to this new media and its successors.