05 May 2022
4,500 patients in Jersey who were eligible for Jersey's retinal screening programme have now had their appointments - and the list of those needing an appointment has been cleared within a year.
Approximately 150 appointments a week have been offered in order to ensure anyone requiring an appointment has received one, with additional clinics as required.
Routine digital screening, known as RDS, involves taking a 2D image of the retina to look for diabetic changes. It is offered to patients every year or two years, depending on their results.
Retinal screening is a free service offered to people with diabetes, over the age of 12, in the island. The screening, which is a simple and swift procedure, helps ensure that signs of diabetic retinopathy can be caught early and treated as needed.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes affecting the eyes and is one of the top five causes of blindness and sight loss in both the working age population and developed world.
Retinal screening of patients with diabetes has been shown to reduce the risk of sight loss by the prompt identification and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.
Sarah Evans, screening programmes manager at Health and Community Services, said: "There are approximately 4,500 patients with diabetes in Jersey. This number is increasing, in keeping with international rise in this disease. It is reassuring for patients who might be at risk from a very serious condition to be offered this screening. Our screening team have worked incredibly hard to offer appointments, and we have had a fantastic response from patients about this screening service.
"In addition to offering peace of mind for patients, the service manages people so they don't have to be referred to the Ophthalmology Department as often as they would have been in previous years. If fewer people are being referred, this cuts down the waiting time for the patient, as due to the reliability of the screening and the addition of surveillance clinics, we are now able to refer the patient only at the point of active treatment."
Mrs Evans added: "Retinal screening programmes, known as RSP, are described as complex compared with other screening programmes. This is due to various factors including entry onto the programme, which is predicated by a clinical diagnosis rather than age. In addition, patients will require screening for their entire lives and the service needs to make provision for that.
"The monitoring of retinopathy many transfer between the Ophthalmology team and the RSP numerous times over the years. A retinal screening programme has a variety of outcomes, including surveillance pathways rather than a more distinct yes/no outcome.
"A robust retinal screening programme (RSP) reduces the number of patients that need to enter ophthalmology by keeping them within the RSP until the point of treatment. The RSP appointed a programme manager and clinical lead in March 2021 and a specialist optometrist in July 2021.
"The appointment of these staff members ensured that strong governance was developed and maintained, the RSP adhered to all guidance by Public Health England (PHE), whilst taking advantage of being our own jurisdiction to make upgrades to our programme and develop a surveillance programme.
"None of what we do would be possible without the very generous donation of two retinal cameras from Diabetes Jersey in 2020 and the hard work of the late Alain du Chemin who also bequeathed funds to purchase a slit lamp to ensure surveillance clinics could take place."