Objective: We aimed to quantify socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in diabetes retinal screening.
Methods: Data were analysed for the retinal screening programme for three South London boroughs for the 18-month period to February 2009. Sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy (STDR) was defined as the occurrence of diabetic maculopathy, severe non-proliferative or proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Odds ratios were adjusted for sex, age group, duration and type of diabetes, self-reported ethnicity and deprivation quintile by participant postal code.
Results: There were 76 351 records obtained but, after excluding duplicate and ineligible records, data were analysed for 59 495 records from 31 484 subjects. There were 7026 (22%) subjects called for appointments who were not screened in the period, with 24 458 (78%) having one or more screening episodes. Non-attendance for screening was highest in young adults aged 18-34 years (32%) and in those aged 85 years or greater (28%). In the most deprived quintile, non-attendance was 23% compared with 21% in the least deprived quintile [odds ratio (OR) 1.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-1.61, P < 0.001]. There were 2819 (11.5%) participants with STDR, including 10.8% in the least deprived quintile and 12.2% in the most deprived quintile (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.95-1.16, P = 0.196). Compared with white Europeans (9.4%), STDR was higher in Africans (15.2%) and African Caribbeans (14.7%), resulting from a higher frequency of diabetic maculopathy.
Conclusion: Socio-economic inequality in diabetes retinal screening may be smaller than reported in earlier studies. This study suggested an increased frequency of diabetic maculopathy among participants of African origins.