Background: Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness. Studies have shown the value of screening and early, timely treatment. Our aim was to measure the effectiveness and degree of acceptance of community screening for diabetic retinopathy using telemedicine.
Methods: In this prospective, population-based cross-sectional study, diabetics recruited through a regional multimedia campaign were surveyed and screened for retinopathy using a nonmydriatic camera and evaluated through telemedical imaging.
Results: Of the 291 diabetics recruited over a 3-week period (37% by the regional diabetes association and 30% by the media), 49.4% reported having their most recent eye examination within 1 year, 30.7% between 1 to 2 years, 9.7% over 2 years, and 10.1% had never had an exam. 98.6% found our screening method acceptable, with 95.1% wanting to return for their next screening and 91.2% stating it would increase their compliance to annual screening.
Interpretation: Telemedicine provided a reliable and highly acceptable method for diabetic retinopathy screening. It can attract a significant number of people with diabetes and potentially recruit patients who would otherwise be missed by the current methods of vision screening.