Screening and identifying diabetes in optometric practice: a prospective study

Authors: Howse, Jennifer H1; Howse, Jennifer H1; Jones, Steve2; Jones, Steve2; Hungin, A Pali S1; Hungin, A Pali S1

Source: British Journal of General Practice, 1 July 2011, vol. 61, no. 588, pp. e436-e442(7)


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Unconventional settings, outside general medical practice, are an underutilised resource in the attempt to identify the large numbers of people with undiagnosed diabetes worldwide.


The study investigated the feasibility of using optometry practices (opticians) as a setting for a diabetes screening service.

Design and setting

Adults attending high street optometry practices in northern England who self-reported at least one risk factor for diabetes were offered a random capillary blood glucose (rCBG) test. Those with raised rCBG levels were asked to visit their GP for further investigations.


Of 1909 adults attending practices for sight tests, 1303 (68.2%) reported risk factors for diabetes, of whom 1002 (76.9%) had rCBG measurements taken. Of these, 318 (31.7%) were found to have a rCBG level of ≥6.1 mmol/l, a level where further investigations are recommended by Diabetes UK; 1.6% of previously undiagnosed individuals were diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes as a result of the service. Refining the number of risk factors for inclusion would have reduced those requiring screening by half and still have identified nearly 70% of the new cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes.


Screening in optometric practices provides an efficient opportunity to screen at-risk individuals who do not present to conventional medical services, and is acceptable and appropriate. Optometrists represent a skilled worldwide resource that could provide a screening service. This service could be transferable to other settings.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus, type 2; optometry; prediabetes; primary care; screening

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research, School of Medicine and Health, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University, Stockton-on-Tees 2: The William Kelly Diabetes Centre, The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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