Purpose: To evaluate single-field digital monochromatic nonmydriatic fundus photography as an adjunct in the screening of diabetic retinopathy.
Design: Prospective, comparative, observational case series.
Methods: Patients with type I and type II diabetes mellitus (n = 197) were sequentially evaluated by three different techniques: single-field digital monochromatic nonmydriatic photography; dilated ophthalmoscopy by an ophthalmologist; and seven Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) standardized 35-mm color stereoscopic mydriatic images. The seven stereoscopic color photographs served as the reference standard and were compared with either ophthalmoscopy or a single digital photograph transmitted electronically to a reading site. Levels of agreement were determined by kappa analyses. The sensitivity and specificity of the three methods were compared based on a threshold for referral to further ophthalmologic evaluation (ETDRS level > or =35).
Results: There was highly significant agreement (kappa = 0.97, P =.0001) between the degree of retinopathy detected by a single nonmydriatic monochromatic digital photograph and that seen in seven standard 35-mm color stereoscopic mydriatic fields. The sensitivity of digital photography compared with color photography was 78%, with a specificity of 86%. Agreement was poor (kappa = 0.40, P =.0001) between mydriatic ophthalmoscopy and the seven-field standard 35-mm color photographs. Sensitivity of ophthalmoscopy compared with color photography was 34%, with a specificity of 100%.
Conclusion: A single nonmydriatic monochromatic wide-field digital photograph of the disk and macula was more sensitive for diabetic retinopathy screening than mydriatic ophthalmoscopy, the currently accepted screening method. When adjudicated by standard seven-field color photographs, the higher sensitivity of digital photography primarily reflected the reduced sensitivity of ophthalmoscopy in detecting early retinopathy.