An elderly couple having a digital consultation with a clinician using a tablet.

For many eye conditions, early diagnosis is essential for effective treatment and care. This includes diabetic retinopathy which is the leading cause of sight loss in people aged 20-69 years.

We are funding an innovation grant exploring how a patient’s perception and understanding of their eye condition are impacted by use of RetinaRisk® - an app that gives an individualised risk assessment for the development of diabetic retinopathy.

The challenge

Vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy (DR) can affect the wellbeing of individuals, their families and wider society. National clinical guidelines recommend that patients are provided with feedback on their eye tests alongside metabolic advice to reduce the risk of disease progression.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Learn more

Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye condition in people with diabetes, particularly those with poor diabetic control. It is caused by high blood sugar levels which, over long periods of time, damage the blood vessels in the retina - the tissue lining at the back of the eye that detects light and allows us to see.

However, patients with mild or moderate diabetic retinopathy are often presented with feedback in a manner not easily accessible or understood. They can also sometimes be less aware of the disease process and the consequences of poor management. As a result, they can feel ill-equipped and unsure of how to manage their condition. 

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8 out of 10

patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more, are affected by diabetic retinopathy

Finding a solution

Dr Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi along with her team will assess the impact of using RetinaRisk® in patients with vision loss. The RetinaRisk® digital application produces an individualised risk assessment for the development of sight-threatening DR in the next 12 months using a red-amber-green visualisation scale. 

The study will progress in two phases:

  • Phase 1: two parallel focus groups will consist of patients with mild-moderate maculopathy and eye care professionals. They will examine the potential use of RetinaRisk® to change/​enhance self-management and determine its aid in patient education, decision-making and clinical management.
  • Phase 2: the findings from phase 1 will be formulated to develop a prototype protocol for integrating RetinaRisk® within a model of self-management support. This will involve an integrated focus group of professionals and patients.

The potential

Understanding personalised clinical information can empower patients to participate in planning to care for their condition and manage decisions in relation to their health. The RetinaRisk® application could be incorporated into future patient consultations to the benefit of both patients and clinicians.

Following this project, a randomised control trial is planned. It would evaluate in greater detail the effects of RetinaRisk® on a patient’s eye and metabolic outcomes, knowledge of their condition and any resulting behaviour changes. The utilisation of such digital tools has the potential to engage patients in their healthcare.

Project Details

Funding scheme

Innovation grant

Grant holder

Dr Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi

Area(s) of work

Diabetic retinopathy, Service improvement, Patient experience

Start date

September 2020

Grant reference