ICO Statement - National Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme

October 22, 2020

Upon the publication this week of the Expert Reference Groups' Reports on three of the four national screening programmes, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists are reassured that the reviewed programmes are performing to best international standard.

The Irish National Diabetic Retinal Screening programme, DiabeticRetina Screen, also meets best international standard and results of the first five rounds of screening and treatment referrals are soon to be published.

Screening is a risk reduction measure, to reduce deaths from cancer and blindness from diabetic retinopathy. Screening works via an integrated process of attendance, testing, grading, reporting and referral when appropriate (i.e. when abnormalities are seen on the screening test).

Screening is not a diagnostic tool and no screening test is 100% accurate. This is true for all international screening programmes.  False negatives occur (no disease detected when it is actually present) in all programmes but performing programmes keep these to a minimum. All screening progammes operating in Ireland are quality assured.

Since the commencement of the programme in 2012, Diabetic RetinaScreen has completed more than 500,000 screens, detected sight-threatening retinal disease in over 20,000 patients and critical disease in over 6000. These have been treated.

For proper quality assurance, it is important for all programmes to review their processes, results and outcomes.  

The ICO welcomes the publication of the reports by the Expert Reference Groups, which included Irish professionals, advocacy group members, patient representatives and international experts, and look forward to the full and early implementation of the recommendations. 

To read the Reports in full, and for information, please visit HSE website here 

For information on the National Diabetic Retinal Screening programme please visit https://www.diabeticretinascreen.ie/

22nd October 2020