Purpose: To evaluate the relative diagnostic value of nonmydriatic fundus photography (nFP) among patients screened for diabetic retinopathy in remote rural medical clinics and an urban academic medical center for nonadherence to recommended annual dilated eye examination.
Subjects and methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study was performed among diabetic patients seen in primary outpatient clinics between 2006 and 2011 who were screened for diabetic retinopathy with nFP for history of nonadherence to recommended annual dilated eye examination. A single nonstereoscopic, 45°, 10-megapixel digital image of the disc and macula of both eyes was obtained locally and transmitted electronically to a retinal specialist for remote review. The results from remote rural Native American Indian reservations were compared with those from an urban academic family practice clinic. The proportion of subjects diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy and the quality of fundus images were compared.
Results: Among 872 patients (1,744 eyes) screened from rural sites and 517 subjects (1,034 eyes) screened from an urban site, images were of good quality for evaluation in 82.4% and 85.7% of subjects, respectively. Diabetic retinopathy was noted in 12.6% of rural subjects and 29.6% of urban subjects (p<0.001).
Conclusions: nFP can be a useful tool in both rural and urban settings to screen for diabetic retinopathy in patients who are nonadherent to the recommended dilated annual eye exam. In our study population, a surprisingly higher percentage of diabetic subjects screened from the urban clinic had retinopathy compared with subjects screened in rural clinics.