More than 460 million people in the world live with diabetes and the number will likely continue increasing. The health condition leads to a variety of severe complications and one of the most common ones is diabetic retinopathy which may eventually cause blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy or DR was previously untreatable which means those that suffer from it are at risk of blindness, thus making it very dangerous. Fortunately, scientists have developed a new approach that can potentially treat the condition. Clinical Ophthalmology professor, Dr. Simon Harding and a research team conducted a study called “Individualized Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy” (ISDR) which kept track of more than 4,500 study participants.
They conducted the study for 7 years, during which they regularly screened patients for DR. The subjects are screened and those with early stages of the DR receive treatment before the condition advances to a level that threatens the subject’s vision. This preventive approach is more efficient than reactive treatment when the subjects are at advanced stages of the disease.
The study featured a control group, an individualized approach and personalized approach groups. Those in the individualized group were screened using an innovative newmethod with varied screening durations. The screening method takes into account cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It uses the data from those measurements to determine the risk exposure to DR.
High-risk patients were required to go for screening after every six months while those at medium risk were given appointments after 12 months. Low-risk individuals had appointments after 24 months. The study findings showed that patients in the 81.9% of those in the individualized group were less likely to develop DR and so they were classified as lower risk.
The study findings indicate that the managed appointments reduced the need for appointments by 43.2 percent and each patient managed to save £26.19 per year. The researchers also observed that DR that could potentially lead to blindness was discovered earlier especially in high-risk individuals compared to those in the control group. Longer screening intervals did not pose any safety risks to patients. The research proved that incorporating digital technologies in diabetic retinopathy detection, management and treatment provides superior results in patients.