Retinopathy Screening

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of preventable blindness in Canada. Guidelines recommend yearly diabetic retinopathy screening (DRS) for people with diabetes to reduce the risk and progression of vision loss. However, most Canadians with diabetes have not attended screening in the last year, and almost a third never have. Rates are even lower in newcomers to Canada including people arriving from China, Africa and the Caribbean; groups also at higher risk of developing diabetes complications. This project builds on our foundational research investigating ways of improving diabetic retinopathy screening attendance.

In 2022, we worked with these communities to co-develop a culturally and linguistically tailored, tele-retina screening program in Ottawa. Along with our partners at Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC) and the Ottawa Eye Institute, we implemented Diabetes Eye Screening Ottawa (DESO) and undertook a formal feasibility pilot between November 2022 and June 2023 to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the new program from the perspective patients and providers (see publications describing the co-development of the program and details of the evaluation).

Our overall goal was to co-develop and assess the feasibility of delivering a linguistically- and culturally-competent tele-retina screening program for newcomers to Canada

Today, the DESO program continues to accept referrals from newcomers to Canada from Chinese and Afro-Caribbean communities while broadening outreach to accept referrals for anyone living with diabetes in Ottawa, including people who do not have a family doctor or are not covered by OHIP. As we continue screening for diabetic retinopathy though the DESO program at CCHC, we continue to work with community partners to evaluate and adapt the program to meet diverse client needs (e.g., expanding translation/ language services).

If you are interested in learning more about DESO, you can visit the program website: Diabetes Eye Screening Ottawa - Diabetes Central Ottawa. Those interested in having their eyes screened can complete an online self-referral form and health care providers can download a fillable referral form. Currently, DESO resources are available in English, French and Mandarin.

Check out the DESO program video

We would like to thank our partners for their continued support and collaboration on this project.

Centretown Community Health Centre
Community Diabetes Education Program of Ottawa (CDEPO)
The Ottawa Hospital Eye Institute