A Multi-Center Diabetes Eye Screening Study in Community Settings: Study Design and Methodology

Purpose: Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years within the United States. The Innovative Network for Sight Research group (INSIGHT) designed the Diabetic Eye Screening Study (DESS) to examine the feasibility and short-term effectiveness of non-mydriatic diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening for adults with diabetes in community-based settings.

Methods: Study enrollment began in December 2011 at four sites: an internal medicine clinic at a county hospital in Birmingham, Alabama; a Federally-qualified community healthcare center in Miami-Dade County, Florida; a university-affiliated outpatient pharmacy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and a medical home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. People 18 years or older with previously diagnosed diabetes were offered free DR screening using non-mydriatic retinal photography that was preceded by a brief questionnaire addressing demographic information and previous eye care use. Visual acuity was also measured for each eye. Images were evaluated at a telemedicine reading center by trained evaluators using the National Health System DR grading classification. Participants and their physicians were sent screening report results and telephoned for a follow-up survey 3 months post-screening to determine whether participants had sought follow-up comprehensive eye care and their experiences with the screening process.

Results: Target enrollment at each site was a minimum of 500 persons. Three of the four sites met this enrollment goal.

Conclusion: The INSIGHT/DESS is intended to establish the feasibility and short-term effectiveness of DR screening using non-mydriatic retinal photography in persons with diabetes who seek services in community-based clinic and pharmacy settings.