Time a barrier to retinal screen

Authors of an MJA editorial revealed fewer than half of Australians with diabetes had seen an ophthalmologist in the last two years, the minimum period recommended in NHMRC guidelines.

In addition, 74% of GPs did not routinely examine the eyes of patients with diabetes, preferring to refer to ophthalmologists — with time constraints, level of Medicare reimbursement and lack of confidence all providing barriers to screening by GPs.

A separate study proposed opportunistic screening at pathology collection centres using fundus photography, but this was not the ideal solution, according to  Professor Claire Jackson, from the University of Queensland.

“I believe the best way to screen is holistically — to tie a diabetic retinopathy screening in together with reviews of the patient’s feet, blood pressure or kidney function — and general practice is the ideal environment for this,” said Professor Jackson, who has