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Tell Your Retina to Say "Cheese!"

09/18/2008 - News

Tell Your Retina to Say "Cheese!"

By: June Chen, MD

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Diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the retina, is a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness. Diabetic patients who have limited access to ophthalmologists often do not get screened for diabetic retinopathy. The use of a retinopathy camera in the primary care setting is an effective screening tool for this condition, according to a new study in the September/October 2008 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine .

Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, in combination with better blood sugar control, can slow or prevent the development of blindness. In this study, investigators from Colorado evaluated a community health center clinic primarily staffed by family practitioners and nurses. These clinicians were trained to read retinal photographs taken by a retinopathy camera. These photographs were also read by an ophthalmologist. Of the 1040 diabetic patients who were screened for diabetic retinopathy, 113 (or, nearly 11%) were found to have diabetic retinopathy. Of these patients, 46 required referral to an eye specialist due to the severity of their eye damage. The primary care clinicians failed to refer approximately 10% of the 344 patients the ophthalmologist felt needed referral.

From this information, the researchers concluded that primary care clinicians trained to read retinal images from a retinopathy camera have acceptable accuracy in screening for diabetic retinopathy. With additional training, the accuracy of screening would likely improve, with the possibility of reducing diabetes-related eye complications.

Source

Ann Fam Med. 2008;6:428-434.

Created on: 09/18/2008
Reviewed on: 09/18/2008

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