Disability

April 2011

Research

Diabetic retinopathy

Screening and management by Australian GPs

Volume 40, No.4, April 2011 Pages 233-238

Daniel Ting

Jonathon Ng

Nigel Morlet

Joshua Yuen

Antony Clark

Hugh Taylor

Jill Keefe

David Preen

Aim

To describe current diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening and management practices among Australian general practitioners

Methods

A self administered questionnaire on DR management was mailed to 2000 rural and urban GPs across Australia in 2007–2008.

Results

Only 29% of the GP respondents had read the National Health and Research Council guidelines at least once and 41% had a ‘moderate’ to ‘strong’ desire to screen for DR. A majority of GPs (74%) reported not routinely examining their diabetic patients for DR. Lack of confidence in detecting DR changes (86.4%) and time constraints (73.4%) were the two major barriers to GPs performing dilated fundoscopy on diabetic patients.

Discussion

Given that access to optometry is not evenly distributed across the country, and that ophthalmology is underresourced, GPs are the healthcare providers most able to manage and screen for DR in the community.

Diabetes mellitus is rising in prevalence within Australia and internationally, with estimates indicating that the global prevalence of diabetes will double by 2030.1 In Australia, the prevalence of diabetes is 8% in adult men and 6.5% in adult women;2 of these, one in four will be diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy (DR).3 Early detection and prompt treatment can prevent 98% of visual impairment.4

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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