Newswise — Rockville, Md. – New research results out of the University of Toronto indicate that one third of patients with diabetes in an urban center in Canada have not been screened for diabetic retinopathy (DR), and further, that of all patients with diabetes, young adults, immigrants and those not under the care of a family physician are at highest risk of not being screened. The study is being presented at the virtual 2021 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults worldwide. Over 20% of patients with type II diabetes are found to have diabetic retinopathy upon diagnosis, and the majority will develop retinopathy after 10 years of disease. As such, early detection of diabetic eye disease will decrease rates of avoidable vision loss.

Led by Tina Felfeli, MD, the research team reviewed a nationally representative sample of patients with diabetes from the Ontario Diabetes health claims database for 2011 - 2015 and 2016 - 2020, which was created using algorithms with ICD diagnosis codes applied to physician billing claims for adults aged 19 years and greater. Of the 1,346,578 patients with diabetes, 455,027 (34%) had not been screened for DR in 2016 - 2020, which was higher than the number of unscreened patients in 2011 - 2015.

A closer examination of the data revealed that certain groups were especially at risk for not being screened, including immigrants and those not under the care of a family physician.

“We hope that our findings can help guide resource allotment aimed at improving the rates of screening eye examinations. We encourage ophthalmologist to work closely with their local general practitioners to improve means of accessing eye care for this patient population,” says Felfeli. “Furthermore, our findings may encourage the implementation of tele-ophthalmology screening programs to alleviate travel burden and improve access for at-risk populations.”

Abstract title: Temporal Trends in Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Amongst Patients with Diabetes in an Urban Setting: A Canadian population-based study over a decade

Presentation start/end time: Friday, May 7, 2021, 2:15 – 4pm ET

Presentation number: 3535331


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The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include approximately 10,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at

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