Digital technology could drastically improve diabetic retinopathy screening

April 30, 2007

Digital imaging technology, used during primary care visits, can significantly improve screening rates for diabetic retinopathy, according to a report published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.

Digital imaging technology, used during primary care visits, can significantly improve screening rates for diabetic retinopathy, according to a report published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.

Cathy Taylor and colleagues from the Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA conducted a retrospective cohort study of all diabetic patients aged 18 years (n=495), seen at Vine Hill Community Clinic between the 1st September 2003 and the 31st August 2004. Each subject was offered ophthalmology referral or digital screening. Those who chose the referral received the next available (within three months) appointment at the Vanderbilt Eye Clinic; patients choosing digital screening were screened during the visit.

Of the 293 patients screened, 92 (31.4%) were screened at referral, and 201 (68.6%) were digitally screened. Among the 201 digitally screened patients, 104 (51.7%) tested negative and were advised to return for re-screening in one year. A total 75 (37.3%) screened positive and were referred for a non-urgent follow-up while 22 (11.0%) screened positive for sight-threatening eye disease and were urgently referred for ophthalmological follow-up. Digital imaging technical failure rate was 0.5%.

It was concluded that digital screening technology could dramatically improve screening rates for diabetic retinopathy.