Purpose: To measure the population prevalence of diabetic eye disease in an inner city setting.
Methods: As part of a systematic screening programme all adult diabetic patients in four general practices were invited to attend for slit-lamp biomicroscopy by a retinal specialist. Data on non-attenders were available from community-based photography.
Results: Of 395 diabetic patients identified, 326 attended biomicroscopy with photographic data available on a further 31, giving a 90% compliance rate. Point prevalence of diabetes in the target population was 12.4/ 1000. Demographic data included: mean age 60 years (range 13-92 years); type of control: type I 49, type II insulin-requiring (IR) 40, type II non-insulin-requiring (NIR) 268. Prevalences were as follows: any retinopathy: of all diabetic patients 33.6%, type I 36.7%, type II IR 45.0%, type II NIR 31.3%; proliferative/ advanced: all 1.1%, type I 2.0%, type II IR 0, type II NIR 1.1%; clinically significant macular oedema: all 6.4%, type I 2.3%, type II IR 16.2%, type II NIR 5.7%. The percentage of patients with retinopathy requiring follow-up by an opthalmologist was 4.5%, and 9.2% had macular exudates within 1 disc diameter of fixation or significant circinate maculopathy. Sight-threatening diabetic eye disease (STED) was found in 13.4%. A visual acuity of < or = 6/24 in the better eye occurred in 12 (3.4%) patients and of < or = 6/60 in the better eye in 3 (0.8%).
Conclusions: Compared with previous population studies, prevalences appear to have declined in type I, but remain high in type II diabetic patients and especially in those requiring insulin.