Tele-ophthalmology for diabetic retinopathy screening: 8 years of experience

Arch Soc Esp Oftalmol. 2017 Feb;92(2):63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.oftal.2016.08.006. Epub 2016 Oct 15.
[Article in En, Spanish]


Purpose: To describe the results of a diabetic retinopathy screening program implemented in a primary care area.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted using data automatically collected since the program began on 1 January 2007 until 31 December 2015.

Results: The number of screened diabetic patients has progressively increased, from 7,173 patients in 2007 to 42,339 diabetic patients in 2015. Furthermore, the ability of family doctors to correctly interpret retinographies has improved, with the proportion of retinal images classified as normal having increased from 55% in 2007 to 68% at the end of the study period. The proportion of non-evaluable retinographies decreased to 7% in 2015, having peaked at 15% during the program. This was partly due to a change in the screening program policy that allowed the use of tropicamide. The number of severe cases detected has declined, from 14% with severe non-proliferative and proliferativediabetic retinopathy in the initial phase of the program to 3% in 2015.

Conclusions: Diabetic eye disease screening by tele-ophthalmology has shown to be a valuable method in a growing population of diabetics. It leads to a regular medical examination of patients, helps ease the workload of specialised care services and favours the early detection of treatable cases. However, the results of implementing a program of this type are not immediate, achieving only modest results in the early years of the project that have improved over subsequent years.

Keywords: Atención primaria; Diabetes mellitus; Diabetic retinopathy; Optical coherence tomography; Primary health care; Retinopatía diabética; Telemedicina; Telemedicine; Tomografía de coherencia óptica.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / pathology
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mydriatics
  • Ophthalmology / methods
  • Ophthalmology / organization & administration*
  • Photography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spain
  • Telemedicine* / organization & administration
  • Tropicamide


  • Mydriatics
  • Tropicamide