At present, there is no national population-based retinopathy screening programme for people in Ireland who have diabetes, such as those operating in the UK for over a decade.
To evaluate a community-based initiative that utilised existing resources in general practice and community optometry/ophthalmology services to provide screening for diabetic retinopathy.
Design and setting
Cross-sectional study using electronic ophthalmic patient screening records in community optometry clinics in Cork, Ireland.
A purposive sample of 32 practices was recruited from Diabetes in General Practice, a general practice-led initiative in the South of Ireland. Practices invited all adult patients registered with diabetes to participate in free retinopathy screening (n = 3598), provided by 15 community optometry practices and two community ophthalmologists. Data were recorded on an electronic database used by optometrists and the performance was benchmarked against proposed national standards for retinopathy screening.
In total, 30 practices participated (94%). After 6 months, 49% of patients (n = 1763) had been screened, following one invitation letter and no reminder. Forty-three per cent of those invited consented to their data being used in the study and subsequent analyses are based on that sample (n = 1542). The mean age of the patients screened was 65 years (standard deviation = 13.0 years), 57% were male (n = 884), and 86% had type 2 diabetes (n = 1320). In total, 26% had some level of retinopathy detected (n = 395); 21% had background retinopathy (n = 331), 3% had pre-proliferative retinopathy (n = 53), and 0.7% had proliferative retinopathy (n = 11).
The detection of retinopathy among 26% of those screened highlights the need for a national retinopathy screening programme in Ireland. Significant learning, derived from the implementation of this initiative, will inform the national programme.