In prisons, prison medical officers provide general medical care. However, if specialist care is needed then the prisoner is transported to a specialist medical centre. This is a costly procedure and prison escapes occur during transportation. We have tested our Internet-based eye care system in prisons in Western Australia. Medical and ophthalmic history, visual acuity and intraocular pressure were stored in a browser-based multimedia database. Digital images of the retina and the external eye were recorded and transmitted to a central server. Based on the medical data and the digital images, the specialist ophthalmologist could provide a diagnosis within 24 h. Eleven patients (mean age 48, range 30-82 years) were reviewed during two separate visits to a maximum-security prison in Western Australia. Our main aim was to train prison medical officers and nurses to operate the portable ophthalmic imaging instruments and to use the Internet-based eye care system. The outcome of the pilot study indicated that considerable savings could be made in transport costs and the security risk could be reduced. The Ministry of justice in Western Australia has decided to implement telemedicine services to provide regular ophthalmic consultation to its prisons.