Sensitivity of diabetic retinopathy associated vision loss to screening interval in an agent-based/discrete event simulation model

Comput Biol Med. 2014 Apr;47:7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.compbiomed.2014.01.007. Epub 2014 Jan 21.


Objective: To examine the effect of changes to screening interval on the incidence of vision loss in a simulated cohort of Veterans with diabetic retinopathy (DR). This simulation allows us to examine potential interventions without putting patients at risk.

Methods: Simulated randomized controlled trial. We develop a hybrid agent-based/discrete event simulation which incorporates a population of simulated Veterans--using abstracted data from a retrospective cohort of real-world diabetic Veterans--with a discrete event simulation (DES) eye clinic at which it seeks treatment for DR. We compare vision loss under varying screening policies, in a simulated population of 5000 Veterans over 50 independent ten-year simulation runs for each group.

Results: Diabetic Retinopathy associated vision loss increased as the screening interval was extended from one to five years (p<0.0001). This increase was concentrated in the third year of the screening interval (p<0.01). There was no increase in vision loss associated with increasing the screening interval from one year to two years (p=0.98).

Conclusions: Increasing the screening interval for diabetic patients who have not yet developed diabetic retinopathy from 1 to 2 years appears safe, while increasing the interval to 3 years heightens risk for vision loss.

Keywords: Agent based modeling; Diabetic eye screen; Diabetic retinopathy; Discrete event simulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Veterans
  • Vision, Low / diagnosis*
  • Vision, Low / physiopathology