Researchers in the UK have argued that it would be cost-effective to screen people that have type 2 diabetes but not developed the eye condition diabetic retinopathy every couple of years rather than annually as recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
The study, by a team from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD) at the University of Exeter and reported in Diabetes Care, designed a new model to simulate the progression of retinopathy in type 2 diabetes to help predict the rates of retinopathy-related sight loss. The model showed there was no risk in screening patients every two years instead of annually, as there was no difference between the numbers of patients who started to suffer from the condition across the two time periods.
In addition, the savings from such a move would be significant at about 25 per cent, coming down from GBP1.83 million per year to GBP1.36 million per year for the 3,500+ patients in the trust.
Study leader, Daniel Chalk, said “Diabetic retinopathy typically develops at a very slow pace, and as a consequence we wanted to identify whether or not there was any merit in reducing the frequency of screening from annually to every two years.”
He added “We found that there was no perceivable difference in the effectiveness of screening annually or every two years for this particular patient cohort, which would suggest that it would be safe and cost-effective to increase the screening interval to two years.”

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