Purpose: To evaluate agreement in diabetic retinopathy severity classification by retina specialists performing ophthalmoscopy versus reading center (RC) grading of seven-field stereoscopic fundus photographs in a phase 2 clinical trial of intravitreal bevacizumab for center-involved diabetic macular edema.
Methods: Clinicians' grading scale used four levels: microaneurysms only, mild/moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), severe NPDR, and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) or prior panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) or both. The RC scale used eight levels: microaneurysms only, mild NPDR, moderate NPDR, moderately severe NPDR, severe NPDR, mild PDR, moderate PDR, and high-risk PDR. Percent agreement and kappa statistic were defined by collapsing RC categories to match those used by clinicians.
Results: There was agreement in 89/118 eyes (75%) with kappa = 0.55 (95% confidence interval [0.41, 0.68]). In six eyes, disagreements were of potential substantial clinical importance: five eyes with subtle retinal neovascularization and one with a small preretinal hemorrhage identified only in photographs.
Conclusions: Clinician grading of retinopathy severity had moderate agreement with RC grading and might be useful for placing eyes into broad baseline categories.