• Open Access

Retinal photography for diabetic retinopathy screening in Indigenous primary health care: the Inala experience


Correspondence to:
Geoffrey Spurling, Discipline of General Practice, University of Queensland, Level 8, Health Sciences Building, Building 16/ 910, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, Herston, Queesland 4029. Fax: (07) 3365 5130; e-mail: g.spurling@uq.edu.au


Objective: We aimed to determine the impact of clinic based retinal photography on access to appropriate screening for diabetic retinopathy (DR).

Design, setting and participants: We opportunistically recruited patients undergoing their annual diabetic cycle of care over a two year period in the urban Indigenous primary health care clinic. Data were collected on retinal outcomes, health variables and referral patterns.

Main outcome measures: Access to appropriate screening and ophthalmic follow up, prevalence of DR, acceptability and feasibility of clinic-based retinal photography were the main outcome measures of this study.

Results: One hundred and thirty-two of a possible 147 patients consented to participate. 30% of participants had DR. Appropriate screening and ophthalmic follow up increased six fold, from 20 to 124 participants, following the introduction of the retinal camera. Most participants felt very positive about DR screening.

Conclusions: Primary care DR screening using retinal photography can improve access to DR screening for indigenous patients, reduce the burden on busy outpatient departments and should reduce visual loss. Policy-makers could contribute to screening sustainability by funding a medicare item-number for primary care based DR screening associated with the annual diabetic cycle of care. An upfront Practice Incentive Program (PIP) payment could offset set up costs.