The risk of a person with diabetes developing sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy in the future can be predicted using data from annual digital retinal photographic screenings, new research has revealed.
Irene M. Stratto, from Cheltenham General Hospital in the UK, and colleagues found that by using longitudinal data from retinal photographs in the population-based NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Program in Gloucestershire, they could estimate future risk of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy (STDR).
For the study, a total of 14,554 patients with no diabetic retinopathy or only mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy at two consecutive annual screenings were categorised at each screening according to the presence of DR in one, both or neither eyes . Each patient was then followed for an average of 2.8 years.
Of the 7,246 patients with no DR at either screening, 120 progressed to STDR, representing an annual rate of 0.7 per cent.
A total of 1,778 with no DR in either eye at first screening, and with DR in one eye at the second screening, progressed to STDR (annual rate of 1.9 per cent), while 299 of the 1,159 with background DR in both eyes at both screenings developed STDR (annual rate of 11 per cent).
The researchers concluded: “Combining the results from 2 consecutive years of photographic screening enables estimation of the risk of future development of STDR.
“In countries with systematic screening programs, these results could inform decisions about screening frequency.”
The findings were published earlier this month in the journal Diabetes Care.

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