First Referral for Diabetic Retinopathy Exam Delayed About 3 Years

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General practitioners referred patients for eye exams about 3 years after diabetes diagnosis.
General practitioners referred patients for eye exams about 3 years after diabetes diagnosis.

(HealthDay News) — An average delay of 3.1 years for an initial diabetes eye exam was found in a recent Australian study. The findings were published online in a letter to the editor in Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology.

Brigitte M. Papa, MD, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues examined current general practitioner (GP) management practices for diabetic retinopathy screening in a cross-sectional survey of 598 GPs in Victoria. The survey comprised 12 questions relating to diabetic retinopathy screening. Data were included from 198 responses to the survey, of which 175 were complete.

The researchers found that there was a mean period of 3.1 years between diabetes diagnosis and first eye referral. Overall, 53% of GPs reported that they referred newly diagnosed individuals for an eye check at the time of diagnosis; 23% referred patients at 1 year or more after initial diagnosis. 

Ninety-seven percent of GPs reported referring patients with type 2 diabetes for diabetic retinopathy screening at least biennially. However, only 55% and 39% of GPs verified patient uptake of the first eye referral and confirmed receipt of a report from the eye health professional following the first eye assessment, respectively.

"This study signals the need for better systems of care to support diabetic retinopathy screening and, ultimately, improve long-term visual outcomes for persons with diabetes," the researchers wrote.


  1. Papa BM, Fenwick EK, Rees G, Lamoureux EL, Finger RP. Late referral for diabetic retinopathy screening in general practice. Clin Experiment Ophthalm. 2016. doi:10.1111/ceo.12798.
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