Title : Impact of COVID-19 on retinal screening, are patients still suffering?
Aims: To assess the effects post-covid-19 on retinal screening programmes across patients registered to a General Practice in East London.
Methods: A search was carried out to evaluate patients coded as 'diabetic retinopathy' registered to the GP surgery, on EMIS (patient data base used in General Practice). Data was collected to see how many of these patients were seen in years 2020, 2021 and 2022 both on a screening programme or separately by hospital eye services, hba1c levels (2020 compared to 2022) and retinopathy changes recorded in 2020 compared with 2022.
Results: Data showed that 53% of patients were seen on the retinal screening programme in 2022, compared with 53% in 2021 and just 33% in 2020. Of the 47% not seen on the screening programme in 2022, a large proportion were seen separately by HES (hospital eye services) mostly due to severity of condition. Our results show that although screening numbers have increased post-covid there is still almost 50% of patients who have not attended screening programmes. It is also important to note that 88 patients hba1c increased between 2020-2022. Interestingly, most retinopathy changes remained stable despite increasing hba1c and limited attendance to programmes between 2020-2022.
Conclusion: Although during the pandemic screening attendance was reduced – post-pandemic attendance of patients increased by just 20%. More work needs to be done to increase patient awareness of effects of diabetes on the eye and to remind them of importance of maintaining hba1c at low levels.
We aim to improve patient education by introducing patient education leaflets and organising educational seminars. We will then re-audit the data to assess if this has impacted the attendance to diabetic screening.
Audience Take Away
The audience will be educated on the impact of the pandemic on the national retinal screening programme
This will help future practice by reminding health care professionals of the implications of missing national screening and that we must intervene to ensure attendance.
This research could be further expanded into looking at the reasons at to why compliance is still low and how we as health professionals can work together to improve overall outcomes. Questions arise such as are annual screening programmes needed, could we increase this to two-yearly?
Interesting findings discussed such as – the severity of retinopathy did not increase as much as anticipated despite patients not being seen and the impact of hba1c on retinopathy.