Opportunistic detection of glaucomatous optic discs within a diabetic retinopathy screening service

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To determine the prevalence of glaucoma among patients referred to a glaucoma service with suspicious disc photographs from the diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening program.


A clinical audit of all patients attending a single-center DR screening program in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, between July 2010 and October 2011 was conducted with a minimum follow-up of 30 months. The DR screening service uses trained technician graders to assess 2-field color retinal photographs for the features of DR. Recently, the service was enhanced so that optic discs are also assessed for signs of glaucoma.


In the 16-month study period, 3,697 diabetic patients were photographed. Following photograph grading, 91 (2.46%) were judged to require referral for assessment at the glaucoma clinic. Of these, 63 (69.23%) presented for assessment. Thirteen patients (20.63%) were diagnosed with glaucoma, comprising 7 cases of low-tension glaucoma and 6 cases of primary open-angle glaucoma. Thirty-six patients (57.14%) were classified as glaucoma suspects and 14 patients (22.22%) were discharged back to the DR screening program following normal ocular examination. Only 6 (9.52%) of the 63 patients examined had an intraocular pressure greater than 21 mm Hg.


The assessment of DR screening photographs for signs of glaucomatous optic nerve damage should be considered as part of a strategy to improve glaucoma case detection and to reduce the burden of this disease on society.

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