The impact of cessation of screening for diabetic eye disease

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    The impact of cessation of screening for diabetic eye disease on people with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic



  • Contact name

    RL Thomas

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    Swansea University

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    1 years, 0 months, 29 days

  • Research summary

    Aims: This study aims to understand the impact of stopping screening for diabetic eye disease, due to the COVID-19 pandemic on changes in the back of the eye (retinopathy) and eyesight of people with diabetes and their quality of life in Wales.
    Revised Background: Currently in the UK, screening for diabetic eye disease is usually performed once a year. However, a small number of people may need to be screened more often because they are considered to be at higher risk of sight loss. Screening for diabetic eye disease was stopped in March 2020 because of COVID-19 and re-started in Wales during September 2020. Due to the need for social distancing and limited clinic venues, rescreening appointments were prioritised based on risk of diabetic eye disease.
    What you hope to discover: This project hopes to reveal the impact that stopping screening has had on people with diabetes and healthcare professionals. In addition, we will explore the effect of the delay of screening on the onset and progression of diabetic eye disease, especially resulting in sight-threatening changes, which is the primary end point, resulting in the onward referral to the HES for further assessment and possibly treatment to prevent sight loss and blindness. This information would then be used to inform policy makers should future lockdowns or pandemics arise to minimize the risk of sight loss in our vulnerable population.
    Patient and public involvement: The experience of all people with diabetes before, during and after the pandemic will be an important part in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the current screening service for future planning when faced with such a serious dilemma. People belonging to ethnic minorities and carers of people with diabetes will be very much involved in this study. We have an established public reference panel including people with diabetes, parents of children with diabetes and young persons with diabetes. Three members of this panel have been fully involved at each stage in the design and development of this study, reviewing and finalising the proposal. The panel members will also be involved in developing and testing planned questionnaires. Some of the panel members will also be on the different steering groups for the study so that their views are considered throughout. We have tried to ensure that the health, safety, and wellbeing of all people with diabetes undergoing screening or attending hospital eye services are fully considered in this application.
    Dissemination: The findings from this study will be provided to our public reference group, Public Health Wales, Welsh Parliament, UK National Screening Committee, Diabetes UK, and the International Diabetes Federation. Manuscripts will be submitted for publication in relevant peer reviewed journals. Presentations at related National and International conferences will be undertaken. Our public representatives will prepare lay summaries and present at relevant meetings for people with diabetes.

  • REC name

    South West - Central Bristol Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    13 Oct 2022

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion