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UWIN Projects: Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program

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Gender Focus IconGender Focus for the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program:
Diabetic Retinopathy affects women and men. There may be many barriers to getting examinations for diabetes. The tele-ophthalmology screening program improves screening rates for our rural and underserved populations. Women with diabetes in pregnancy require an increased number of screenings during pregnancy since retinopathy can progress with pregnancy. We are exploring what does gender have to do with barriers to getting diabetic retinal screening.

About Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program
- Program overview
- Providers, want to get involved? Click here.

Diabetic Retinopathy Diabetes affects 5.7%-6.5% of all of the citizens of the state of Utah. This represents a large rise in diabetes in our state in the last decade. Diabetes causes many complications including problems with vision. One of the most important complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy or inflammation of the retina due to uncontrolled diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy affects 17% of Diabetics in the state of Utah. Diabetic retinopathy when untreated can lead to blindness. Because of the serious nature of diabetes on vision, guidelines have been made by the government (Healthy People 2010) that patients with diabetes should have a yearly dilated eye examination. In the state of Utah about 50% of patients with have yearly dilated screening examinations. However, in many of our rural and underserved clinics, only 4% of our patients have dilated yearly examinations. Part of this is due to the fact that 25% of Utahns live in rural aeas while most of the ophthalmologists live in urban areas.

In an attempt to increase diabetic screenings, digital photographic technology has been developed to photograph the retina and identify patients most at risk for blinding diabetic retinopathy. These photographs can be read by trained retinal specialists with special expertise in diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy. They are only a screen and if retinopathy is found, the patient must be referred for full dilated examination by a retinal specialist. The UWIN ASIST 2010 tertiary prevention is building a telemedicine infrastructure to increase access to retinal screening examinations for diabetic patients in Utah. The project will build a hub to store images, recruit a network of ophthalmologists/optometrists to provide follow-up care, and standardize the practice of reading, interpretation and grading the retinal photos.

The Retinopathy working group (Dr. Teske, Dr. Brinton (retinal specialists), Dr. Ken Libre (Community Health Specialist with experience in retinopathy), James Gilman, Certified Ophthalmic Photographer, Libbey Chuy Telemedicine Program Coordinator, Anna Erickson of AUCH, and Dr. Digre meet each month to implement the screening program.

Screenings are being conducted at these clinics: