Is it safe to increase diabetic retinopathy screening intervals in patients with no background diabetic retinopathy?

Guidelines set by The English National Screening Programme for Diabetic Retinopathy (ENSPDR) state that all patients with diabetes should be screened annually for diabetic retinopathy. With the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes in the population ever increasing, screening programmes may find it difficult to reach screening targets set by ENSPDR. However, it has been proposed that it is safe to screen patients who present with no diabetic retinopathy at longer intervals of two or three years.

The audit looks at feasibility of moving from annual to biannual screening for patients with no DR or background DR, exploring the effects on the sensitivity and specificity of the scheme and the cost implications. The audit involves researching screening outcomes from a cohort of 1500 patients, to estimate prevalence of diabetic retinopathy and the average rate of progression from no DR or background DR to referable DR, so that any recommendations made with regards to screening intervals does not jeopardise patient care.

The aim of the audit is to evaluate the safety of screening every two years for patients presenting with no or background retinopathy.

By Shobana Balu