European and British guidelines both state that patients with type II diabetes should be screened annually for diabetic retinopathy but a new study casts doubt on this requirement.
The study involved 3709 diabetics over a nine year period. The majority of these patients (2316) had no evidence of retinopathy when first examined and, after nine years, only 2.6 per cent of them required treatment for retinopathy.
In comparison, of the 509 patients who showed signs of severe retinopathy when first examined, 31.9 per cent required treatment at this time.
This study shows that the progression of retinopathy is related to its severity. So, while type II diabetics with signs of retinopathy should be monitored regularly, this appears to be unnecessary for those with no signs of the condition (Diabetic Med, 2001; 18: 178-84).