Socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in diabetes retinal screening


: Martin C. Gulliford, Department of Public Health Sciences, Capital House, 42 Weston St, London SE1 3QD, UK. E-mail:


Diabet. Med. 27, 282–288 (2010)


Objective  We aimed to quantify socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in diabetes retinal screening.

Methods  Data were analysed for the retinal screening programme for three South London boroughs for the 18-month period to February 2009. Sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy (STDR) was defined as the occurrence of diabetic maculopathy, severe non-proliferative or proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Odds ratios were adjusted for sex, age group, duration and type of diabetes, self-reported ethnicity and deprivation quintile by participant postal code.

Results  There were 76 351 records obtained but, after excluding duplicate and ineligible records, data were analysed for 59 495 records from 31 484 subjects. There were 7026 (22%) subjects called for appointments who were not screened in the period, with 24 458 (78%) having one or more screening episodes. Non-attendance for screening was highest in young adults aged 18–34 years (32%) and in those aged 85 years or greater (28%). In the most deprived quintile, non-attendance was 23% compared with 21% in the least deprived quintile [odds ratio (OR) 1.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16–1.61, P < 0.001]. There were 2819 (11.5%) participants with STDR, including 10.8% in the least deprived quintile and 12.2% in the most deprived quintile (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.95–1.16, P = 0.196). Compared with white Europeans (9.4%), STDR was higher in Africans (15.2%) and African Caribbeans (14.7%), resulting from a higher frequency of diabetic maculopathy.

Conclusion  Socio-economic inequality in diabetes retinal screening may be smaller than reported in earlier studies. This study suggested an increased frequency of diabetic maculopathy among participants of African origins.