Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

Healthcare Utilization and Awareness of Diabetic Retinopathy among People with Diabetes Mellitus in Ophthalmology Clinics

Investigator: Yu Wang, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Mentor: Neil M. Bressler, MD

Background:
Previous studies characterizing retinopathy from fundus photographs in the absence of optical coherence tomography (OCT) suggest that there are low levels of care and awareness of diabetic retinopathy among people with diabetes mellitus in the general United States population. This study incorporates both fundus photographs and OCT to determine care and awareness of diabetic retinopathy among people with diabetes mellitus in two ophthalmology clinics.

Methods:
People with diabetes mellitus attending their routine clinical visits in a general ophthalmology clinic or a retina specialty clinic completed questionnaires assessing their care and awareness of diabetic retinopathy, followed by fundus photographs and OCT to evaluate presence of diabetic macular edema (DME). Risk factors for low care or awareness of diabetic retinopathy were assessed.

Results:
While 98.2% and 96.4% of the participants reported getting a dilated eye exam and seeing a diabetes provider within the past year, respectively, only 41.4% reported seeing a diabetes nurse educator, dietician, or nutritionist in that time. One-third believed there was no treatment or did not know if there was a treatment for vision loss from diabetic retinopathy; 18.0% believed vision loss caused by diabetes cannot be prevented. Race was a risk factor for believing there was no treatment for vision loss from diabetic retinopathy (OR = 2.2, 95% CI: 1.0 to 4.9; P=0.04), with 50.0% of Asian participants believing there was no treatment, compared with black (28.6%) or white (12.8%) participants.

Conclusion:
Despite high adherence to getting dilated eye exams and seeing diabetes providers at least yearly, these data suggest people in general ophthalmology or retina specialty clinics have limited awareness of diabetic retinopathy and its treatments. Why there were racial differences among participants who were more likely to believe that there is no treatment for vision loss from diabetic retinopathy requires further investigation.

Last modified: 2/01/2017

Updated on February 1, 2017.


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