Excerpt from "Fewer exams and better eye health? Aye-aye, finds type 1 diabetes study," posted on NIH News Releases, April 19, 2017
Adjusting the frequency of eye screenings for people with type 1 diabetes based on their risk of severe eye problems would result in fewer eye exams at lower cost and quicker diagnosis and treatment of advanced retinopathy, which can otherwise lead to vision loss. The findings, published April 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine, are the latest from an ongoing study funded for more than 30 years by the National Institutes of Health.
To develop the new screening suggestions, researchers analyzed about 24,000 retinal exams obtained over three decades from about 1,400 participants in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and its follow-up, the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications study (DCCT/EDIC). The DCCT/EDIC scientists found that people with type 1 diabetes should get eye exams to detect diabetic retinopathy based on their risk, rather than on the automatic, annual schedule that is currently recommended. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults.
“The results could save money and time while getting better health outcomes – a win all around,” said Dr. Catherine Cowie, who oversees DCCT/EDIC at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the study’s primary funder. “The findings from this landmark type 1 diabetes study will inform a precision medicine approach, where treatment is tailored to the individual.”