BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Because patients with diabetes mellitus may visit their primary care physician regularly but not their ophthalmologist, a retinal risk assessment in the primary care setting could improve the screening rate for diabetic retinopathy. An imaging system for use in the primary care setting to identify diabetic retinopathy requiring referral to an ophthalmologist was evaluated. PATIENTS AND METHODS: In a masked prospective study, images were obtained from 111 patients with diabetes mellitus using both the digital retinal imaging system and seven-field stereo color fundus photography. The ability to obtain gradable images and to identify diabetic retinal lesions was compared. RESULTS: Of all images, 85% of digital retinal imaging system images and 88% of seven-field images were gradable. Agreement based on "no retinopathy" versus "any retinopathy" was excellent (Kappa = 0.96). Agreement based on "microaneurysms or less retinopathy" versus "retinal hemorrhages or worse retinopathy" was very good (Kappa = 0.83). CONCLUSIONS: The agreement between the digital retinal imaging system and seven-field photography indicates that the digital retinal imaging system may be useful to screen for diabetic retinopathy.
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