Background: Digital retinal photography with mydriasis is the preferred modality for diabetes eye screening. The purpose of this study was to evaluate agreement in grading levels between primary and secondary graders and to calculate their sensitivity and specificity for identifying sight-threatening disease in an optometry-based retinopathy screening program.
Methods: This was a retrospective study using data from 8,977 patients registered in the North Nottinghamshire retinal screening program. In all cases, the ophthalmology diagnosis was used as the arbitrator and considered to be the gold standard. Kappa statistics were used to evaluate the level of agreement between graders.
Results: Agreement between primary and secondary graders was 51.4% and 79.7% for detecting no retinopathy (R0) and background retinopathy (R1), respectively. For preproliferative (R2) and proliferative retinopathy (R3) at primary grading, agreement between the primary and secondary grader was 100%. Where there was disagreement between the primary and secondary grader for R1, only 2.6% (n=41) were upgraded by an ophthalmologist. The sensitivity and specificity for detecting R3 was 78.2% and 98.1%, respectively. None of the patients upgraded from any level of retinopathy to R3 required photocoagulation therapy. The observed kappa between the primary and secondary grader was 0.3223 (95% confidence interval 0.2937-0.3509), ie, fair agreement, and between the primary grader and ophthalmology for R3 was 0.5667 (95% confidence interval 0.4557-0.6123), ie, moderate agreement.
Conclusion: These data provide information on the safety of a community optometry-based retinal screening program for screening as a primary and as a secondary grader. The level of agreement between the primary and secondary grader at a higher level of retinopathy (R2 and R3) was 100%. Sensitivity and specificity for R3 were 78.2% and 98.1%, respectively. None of the false-negative results required photocoagulation therapy.
Keywords: community; diabetes; optometry; public health; retinopathy; screening.