Mass screening for diabetic retinopathy--a report on diabetic retinal screening in primary care clinics in Singapore

Singapore Med J. 1995 Oct;36(5):510-3.


Introduction: Mass screening for diabetic retinopathy is expensive and inaccessible if done by institutional ophthalmalogists. Most diabetics are seen in primary care. Hence it is logical to provide mass screening in primary care clinics. In Singapore, government polyclinics are ideal centres of screening as they are well organised and accessible to the community. SCREENING METHOD: An effective mass screening strategy must provide wide coverage, be low cost and have the ability to assess diabetic eyes accurately and quickly. Non-mydriatic fundal photography was used as the screening method. Mass coverage was achieved by rotating two cameras around six government polyclinics. Cost was reduced by training existing staff and organising the programme to provide a high turnover of screenees. The photographs were read by ophthalmologists in a government-owned hospital. Patients that required referral were referred to specialist eye clinics.

Results: A total of 13,296 patients were screened or rescreened during a period of 2 years (25 months). 2,911 patients or 21.8% of the total screened were found to have diabetic retinopathy. About half of these (10.8%) had sight threatening retinopathy. The most common sight threatening retinopathy was maculopathy (8.0%). Twenty-two percent of cases screened were referred. These include referral for other ocular conditions detected during the screening.

Conclusion: Non-mydriatic fundal photography has proven to be both accessible and effective in screening diabetic eyes in urban Singapore and can be recommended for mass screening of diabetic eyes in the community.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Developing Countries*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / economics
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sex Distribution
  • Singapore / epidemiology