Background: Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of adult blindness and accounts for about 10% of cases of legal blindness in Israel. Only about half of the patients with diabetes in Israel have regular eye examinations.
Objectives: To evaluate, for the first time in southern Israel, a new service for diabetic retinopathy screening that uses a mobile non-mydriatic mobile fundus camera in primary care patients.
Methods: Diabetic members of the largest health fund in southern Israel and over 18 years old were invited for non-mydriatic fundus examination between January and October 2009. Screening was performed by a trained photographer using the Topcon TRC NW-6S non-mydriatic camera in nine primary care centers.
Results: A total of 4318 diabetic patients were screened, of whom 53% were classified as normal. The incidence of diabetic retinopathy was 15.8% (1.2% had proliferative retinopathy and 2.4% had suspected macular edema and were referred for laser treatment). Other possible sight-threatening conditions were detected in 9.3%. Fundus pictures were inadequate for assessment in 16% of cases.
Conclusions: Diabetic retinopathy screening with a mobile non-mydriatic fundus camera improved the quality of care for diabetic patients in southern Israel. This screening method identified patients requiring prompt referral to the ophthalmologist for further complete eye examination. Extending this screening program to other areas in the country should be considered.