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   Table of Contents - Current issue
February 2020
Volume 68 | Issue 13 (Supplement)
Page Nos. 1-130

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The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust's avoidable blindness programme Highly accessed article p. 1
Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy, Andrew Cooper
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Reaching the last mile in eye care p. 3
Taraprasad Das
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Fighting diabetic blindness: An urgent global issue concerning patients, physicians and public policy p. 6
Arup Das
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Tackling diabetic retinopathy from the grassroots p. 8
Sobha Sivaprasad
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Retinopathy of prematurity Highly accessed article p. 10
Pramod S Bhende
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Overview and project highlights of an initiative to integrate diabetic retinopathy screening and management in the public health system in India p. 12
G V S Murthy, Clare Gilbert, Rajan Shukla, Vidyadhar Bala, Gaurang G Anirudh, Sridivya Mukpalkar, Pavani Yamarthi, Suneetha Pendyala, Anusha Puppala, Edla Supriya, Tripura Batchu, on behalf of the India DR Partners Implementation Consortium#
Purpose: Diabetes is a public health concern in India and diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an emerging cause of visual impairment and blindness. Approximately 3.35–4.55 million people with diabetes mellitus (PwDM) are at risk of vision-threatening DR (VTDR) in India. More than 2/3 of India's population resides in rural areas where penetration of modern medicine is mostly limited to the government public health system. Despite the increasing magnitude, there is no systematic screening for the complications of diabetes, including DR in the public health system. Therefore, a pilot project was initiated with the major objectives of management of DR at all levels of the government health system, initiating a comprehensive program for the detection of eye complications among PwDM at public health noncommunicable disease (NCD) clinics, augmenting the capacity of physicians, ophthalmologists and health support personnel and empowering carers/PwDM to control the risk of DR through increased awareness and self-management. Methods: A national task force (NTF) was constituted to oversee policy formulation and provide strategic direction. 10 districts were identified for implementation across 10 states. Protocols were developed to help implement training and service delivery. Results: Overall, 66,455 PwDM were screened and DR was detected in 16.2% (10,765) while VTDR was detected in 7.5%. 10.1% of those initially screened returned for the next annual assessment. There was a 7-fold increase in the number of PwDM screened and a 7.6-fold increase in the number of PwDM treated between 2016 and 2018. Conclusion: Services for detecting and managing DR can be successfully integrated into the existing public health system.
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Spectrum of eye disorders in diabetes (SPEED) in India: Eye care facility based study. Report # 1. Eye disorders in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus p. 16
Taraprasad Das, Umesh C Behera, Harsha Bhattacharjee, Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy, Ramachandran Rajalakshmi, Hira B Pant, Rajan Shukla, on behalf of the SPEED Study group
Purpose: To document the spectrum of eye diseases in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) reporting to large eye care facilities in India. Methods: The selection of eye care facilities was based on the zone of the country and robustness of the programs. Only people with known T2DM certified by internist, or taking antidiabetes medications, or referred for diabetes related eye diseases were recruited. The analysis included the demographic characteristics, systemic associations, ocular comorbidities, and visual status. Results: People (11,182) with T2DM were recruited in 14 eye care facilities (3 in north, 2 in south central, 4 in south, 2 in west, and 3 in east zone); two were government and 12 were non-government facilities. Hypertension was the commonest systemic association (n = 5500; 49.2%). Diabetic retinopathy (n = 3611; 32.3%) and lens opacities (n = 6407; 57.3%) were the common ocular disorders. One-fifth of eyes (n = 2077; 20.4%) were pseudophakic; 547 (5.4%) eyes had glaucoma and 277 (2.5%) eyes had retinal vascular occlusion. At presentation, 4.5% (n = 502) were blind (visual acuity <3/60 in the better eye) and 9.6% (n = 1077) had moderate to severe visual impairment (visual acuity <6/18-->3/60 in the better eye). Conclusion: People with T2DM presenting at eye clinics in India have high rates of diabetic retinopathy and vision loss. Cataract is a very common occurrence. Advocacy, infrastructure strengthening, and human resource development are the key to address the growing threats of T2DM and eye care in India.
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Spectrum of eye disorders in diabetes (SPEED) in India. Report # 2. Diabetic retinopathy and risk factors for sight threatening diabetic retinopathy in people with type 2 diabetes in India p. 21
Ramachandran Rajalakshmi, Umesh C Behera, Harsha Bhattacharjee, Taraprasad Das, Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy, Hira B Pant, Rajan Shukla, on behalf of the SPEED Study group
Purpose: To assess the proportion of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) with diabetic retinopathy (DR) and sight-threatening DR (STDR) and associated risk factors in select eye-care facilities across India. Methods: In this observational study, data of people with T2DM presenting for the first time at the retina clinic of eye-care facilities across India was recorded. Data collected in 2016 over 6 months included information on systemic, clinical, and ocular parameters. International Clinical Diabetic Retinopathy (ICDR) classification scale was used to grade DR. STDR was defined as presence of severe nonproliferative (NPDR), proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), and/or diabetic macular edema (DME). Results: The analysis included 11,182 people with T2DM from 14 eye-care facilities (mean age 58.2 ± 10.6 years; mean duration of diabetes 9.1 ± 7.6 years; 59.2% male). The age-standardized proportion of DR was 32.3% (95%Confidence Interval, CI: 31.4-33.2) and STDR was 19.1% (95%CI: 18.4-19.8). DME was diagnosed in 9.1% (95%CI: 8.5-9.6) and 10.7% (95%CI: 10.1-11.3) people had PDR. Statistically significant factors associated with increased risk of DR (by multivariate logistic regression analysis) were: male gender (Odds ratio[OR] 1.57, 95%CI: 1.16-2.15); poor glycemic control–glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c >10%)(OR 2.39, 95% CI: 1.1-5.22); requirement of insulin (OR 2.55, 95%CI: 1.8-3.6);history of hypertension (OR 1.42, 95%CI: 1.06-1.88) and duration of diabetes >15 years (OR 5.25, 95%CI: 3.01-9.15). Conclusion: Diabetic retinopathy was prevalent in 1/3rd and sight-threatening DR in 1/5th of people with T2DM presenting at eye-care facilities in this pan-India facility-based study. The duration of diabetes was the strongest predictor for retinopathy.
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Spectrum of Eye Disease in Diabetes (SPEED) in India: A prospective facility-based study. Report # 3. Retinal vascular occlusion in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus p. 27
Harsha Bhattacharjee, Manabjyoti Barman, Divakant Misra, Prabhjot K Multani, Shriya Dhar, Umesh C Behera, Taraprasad Das, Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy, R Rajalakshmi, Hira B Pant, on behalf of the SPEED study group
Purpose: To determine the proportion of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) attending large eye care facilities across India who have retinal vascular occlusion (RVO). Methods: A 6-month descriptive, multicenter, observational hospital-based study of people was being presented to the 14 eye care facilities in India. The retina-specific component of comprehensive eye examination included stereoscopic biomicroscopy, binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy, and fundus fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography was also available when needed. Data recording of the duration of diabetes, hypertension (HTN), stroke, and other variables was obtained from the medical history. The statistical analysis included frequencies, mean, and standard deviations for continuous variables. Odds ratio (OR) and multivariate analysis were undertaken to assess the associations between risk factors and RVO. Results: The study recruited 11,182 consecutive patients (22,364 eyes) with T2DM. About 59.0% (n = 6697) were male. The mean age was 58.2 ± 10.6 years. In this cohort, RVO was detected in 3.4% (n = 380) of patients; 67.6% (n = 257) of them had branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) and the remaining 32.4% (n = 123) had central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO). The frequency of unilateral BRVO (n = 220, 85.6%) and unilateral CRVO (n = 106, 86.18%) was much common. Unilateral RVO was more frequent (n = 326, 85.8%) than bilateral diseases (n = 54, 14.2%) (χ2 = 126.95, P < 0.001). Ischemic CRVO was more common (n = 103, 73.6%) than nonischemic CRVO (n = 37, 26.4%). Macula-involving BRVO was found in 58.5% (n = 172) of cases, suggesting more than 50% of cases in RVO carries a risk of severe vision loss. The duration of diabetes apparently had no influence on the occurrence of RVO. On the multivariate analysis, a history of HTN [OR: 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.3–2.1; P = 0.001) and stroke (OR: 5.1; 95% CI: 2.1–12.4; P < 0.001) was associated with RVO. Conclusion: RVO is a frequent finding in people with T2DM. History of stroke carries the highest risk followed by HTN. The management of people with T2DM and RVO must also include comanagement of all associated systemic conditions.
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Spectrum of Eye Disease in Diabetes (SPEED) in India: A prospective facility-based study. Report # 4. Glaucoma in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus p. 32
Umesh C Behera, Harsha Bhattacharjee, Taraprasad Das, Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy, R Rajalakshmi, Hira B Pant, on behalf of the SPEED study group
Purpose: To estimate the proportion of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and glaucoma in a facility-based cross-sectional observational study in India. Methods: All people received a comprehensive eye examination. Glaucoma-specific examinations included applanation tonometry, optic disc and cup evaluation, and stereo biomicroscopy in all people; gonioscopy and visual field testing in glaucoma suspects. The International Society of Geographic and Epidemiologic Ophthalmology guidelines were used to diagnose and classify glaucoma. Results: The study recruited 11,182 people (average age: 58.2 ± 10.6; range 39–96 years). Glaucoma was diagnosed in 4.9% (n = 547) people. About 76.8% (n = 420) of those with glaucoma had bilateral disease, and 98.7% (n = 540) were >40 years. Among people with bilateral disease, 94.5% (n = 397) had primary glaucoma – open angle in 59.3% (n = 228) and angle closure in 40.2% (n = 169). Diabetes duration was ≤10 years in 71.5% (n = 300) people. On linear regression, the following were associated with glaucoma: advancing age [compared with <40 years age group; odds ratio [OR] in 50-60 year age group: 1.36 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01–1.8], P < 0.035); >60 years age group (OR: 2.05, 95% CI: 1.57–2.67; P < 0.001), and diabetic neuropathy (OR: 2.62, 95% CI: 1.35–5.10, P < 0.003). Glycemic control did not have significant association (P = 0.425). Conclusion: Presence of glaucoma in people with T2DM in this cohort was similar to the general population prevalence studies in India. Glaucoma was invariably bilateral. A comprehensive eye examination in people age 40 years and older with diabetes and/or glaucoma is beneficial.
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Evaluation of whether health education using video technology increases the uptake of screening for diabetic retinopathy among individuals with diabetes in a slum population in Hyderabad p. 37
Radhika Ramagiri, Nanda K Kannuri, Melissa G Lewis, G V S Murthy, Clare Gilbert
Purpose: A community-based intervention to compare the effectiveness of pamphlets and videos as education material to promote diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening in urban slums of Hyderabad and to identify barriers/facilitators for compliance with DR screening. Methods: A cross-sectional survey among people with diabetes (sample of 267) was followed by a health education intervention where patients were allocated into two groups (121 received pamphlets and 102 attended video sessions). The effectiveness of the intervention was assessed based on the uptake of DR screening. The facilitating factors and barriers to DR screening were explored through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with participants and health workers. Data analysis included Chi-square test for quantitative data and thematic analysis for qualitative data. Results: Among the 235 people in the health education intervention study, 131 (55.7%) received the pamphlet and 104 (44.3%) watched the educational videos. The uptake of DR screening within 2 months was higher in the group shown the educational video than who received the pamphlet (32.7% vs 11.45%; P < 0.05). Absence of an accompanying person and good vision were barriers that prevented patients from screening. Realization of consequences of DR and proximity of the screening facility were identified as motivators. The major results we found in the initial survey of 267 people were that 74.5% had never had HbA1c test and locals underwent health check-ups more regularly than migrants (62.2% versus 34%; P < 0.05). Conclusion: Educational videos led to greater behavior change than pamphlets in motivating diabetics for DR screening.
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Accuracy of the smartphone-based nonmydriatic retinal camera in the detection of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy p. 42
Vijayaraghavan Prathiba, Ramachandran Rajalakshmi, Subramaniam Arulmalar, Manoharan Usha, Radhakrishnan Subhashini, Clare E Gilbert, Ranjit Mohan Anjana, Viswanathan Mohan
Purpose: To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of smartphone-based nonmydriatic (NM) retinal camera in the detection of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and sight-threatening DR (STDR) in a tertiary eye care facility. Methods: Patients with diabetes underwent retinal photography with a smartphone-based NM fundus camera before mydriasis and standard 7-field fundus photography with a desktop mydriatic fundus camera after mydriasis. DR was graded using the international clinical classification of diabetic retinopathy system by two retinal expert ophthalmologists masked to each other and to the patient's identity. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) to detect DR and STDR by NM retinal imaging were assessed. Results: 245 people had gradable images in one or both eyes. DR and STDR were detected in 45.3% and 24.5%, respectively using NM camera, and in 57.6% and 28.6%, respectively using mydriatic camera. The sensitivity and specificity to detect any DR by NM camera was 75.2% (95% confidence interval (CI) 68.1–82.3) and 95.2% (95%CI 91.1–99.3). For STDR the values were 82.9% (95% CI 74.0–91.7) and 98.9% (95% CI 97.3–100), respectively. The PPV to detect any DR was 95.5% (95% CI 89.8–98.5) and NPV was 73.9% (95% CI 66.4–81.3); PPV for STDR detection was 96.7% (95% CI 92.1–100)) and NPV was 93.5% (95% CI 90.0–97.1). Conclusion: Smartphone-based NM retinal camera had fairly high sensitivity and specificity for detection of DR and STDR in this clinic-based study. Further studies are warranted in other settings.
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Effect of health education and screening location on compliance with diabetic retinopathy screening in a rural population in Maharashtra p. 47
Smita Singh, Ajay K Shukla, Azhar Sheikh, Girdharilal Gupta, Aarti More
Purpose: To compare the acceptance of diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening by the proximity of care and health education in rural Maharashtra. Methods: Study was done in the public health facilities in four blocks (in two blocks at community health center (CHC) level and in other two blocks at primary health center (PHC) level with the provision of transport from villages to PHCs) over 3 months. Health education was not imparted in one block in each segment. Health education consisted of imparting knowledge on diabetes mellitus (DM) and DR by trained village-level workers. The screening was done using non-mydriatic fundus camera and teleophthalmology supported remote grading of DR. Results: In the study period, 1,472 people with known diabetes were screened in four blocks and 86.6% (n = 1275) gradable images were obtained from them. 9.9% (n = 126) were detected having DR and 1.9% (n = 24) having sight-threatening DR (STDR). More people accepted screening closer to their residence at the PHC than CHC (24.4% vs 11.4%; P < 0.001). Health education improved the screening uptake significantly (14.4% vs 18.7%; P < 0.01) irrespective of the place of screening—at CHC, 9.5% without health education vs 13.1% with health education; at PHC, 20.1% without health education versus 31.6% with health education. Conclusion: Conducting DR screening closer to the place of living at PHCs with the provision of transport and health education was more effective for an increase in the uptake of DR screening by people with known diabetes in rural Maharashtra.
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Effectiveness of health education and monetary incentive on uptake of diabetic retinopathy screening at a community health center in South Gujarat, India p. 52
Rohan Arvindbhai Chariwala, Rajan Shukla, Uday R Gajiwala, Clare Gilbert, Hira Pant, Melissa Glenda Lewis, G V S Murthy
Purpose: The effectiveness of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) with and without monetary incentive in uptake of diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening at community health center (CHC) was compared in South Gujarat, India. Methods: In this non-randomized controlled trial, ASHAs were incentivized to refer people with diabetes mellitus (PwDM) from their respective villages for DR screening after people were sensitized to DM and DR. The minimum sample size was 63 people in each arm. Results: Of 162, 50.6% were females, 80.2% were literate, 56.2% were >50 years, 54.3% had increased random blood sugar (RBS), and 59.9% had diabetes for 5 years. The percentage of screening was significantly higher [relative risk (RR) = 4.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.79, 6.84] in ASHA incentive group and health education (HE) group (RR = 3.67, 95% CI 2.35, 5.75) compared with baseline. Providing incentive to ASHAs was not found to be of extra advantage (RR = 1.19, 95% CI 0.89, 1.57). The likelihood of uptake of screening was higher among uncontrolled PwDM, poor literacy, and higher duration of diabetes in incentive phase (P < 0.001) compared with HE. The results show that age (P = 0.017), education (P = 0.015) and level of RBS (P = 0.001) of those referred were significantly associated with incentives to ASHAs. Conclusion: ASHAs can be used effectively to refer known PwDM for DR screening especially when DR screening program is introduced in population with low awareness and poor accessibility. When incentives are planned, additional burden on resources should be kept in mind before adapting this model of care.
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Diabetic retinopathy screening uptake after health education with or without retinal imaging within the facility in two AYUSH hospitals in Hyderabad, India: A nonrandomized pilot study p. 56
Pruthvi Raj, Samiksha Singh, Melissa G Lewis, Rajan Shukla, G V S Murthy, Clare Gilbert
Purpose: In India, people with diabetes (PwDM) often seek care in the government-approved alternative medicine system, AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy). The purpose of this pilot study was to assess whether health education plus retinal imaging for diabetic retinopathy (DR) within an AYUSH hospital increased the uptake of screening for DR compared with health education and referral. Methods: The study was a nonrandomized pilot conducted in two AYUSH hospitals. Both hospitals received intervention on educating the AYUSH practitioners about DR screening and distributing health education materials to diabetic patients. In one hospital in addition to education, retinal imaging by a trained technician with remote grading by an ophthalmologist was provided, while in another hospital PwDM were referred to nearby eye hospitals for screening. The uptake of screening was assessed through registers and phone calls. Results: At baseline, only 10.7% of 178 PwDM were aware of DR and only 8% had undergone DR screening. After the intervention, in the hospital where screening was provided, all (100%) eligible patients (101) underwent digital imaging, whereas in the other hospital only 25% of 77 eligible patients underwent screening in eye hospitals (P < 0.001). Conclusion: AYUSH hospitals could provide a feasible and acceptable location for providing DR screening services. Further studies are required to assess scale-up of such intervention.
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Operational guidelines for diabetic retinopathy in India: Summary p. 59
G V S Murthy, Gomathi Sundar, Clare Gilbert, Rajan Shukla, on behalf of the IIPH DR Project Implementation Core Team
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is of increasing public health importance in India. The magnitude has been increasing over the past three decades. DM is associated with major microvascular complications among which diabetic retinopathy (DR) is emerging as one of the leading causes of visual impairment in low and middle income countries. Two-thirds of the Indian population resides in rural areas where access to modern medicine is limited mostly to the public health system. Operational guidelines are critical in delivering program components effectively. They provide the template to benchmark service delivery and help in improving quality of care. A pilot initiative to reduce visual impairment in people with diabetes was supported by an international nongovernmental funding organization over a 5-year period in India. This initiative facilitated the development of operational guidelines for DR. The guidelines were developed through consensus and primarily addressed the public health system in India.
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Guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic eye disease in India: A synopsis p. 63
Clare Gilbert, Iris Gordon, Chandoshi Rhea Mukherjee, Vishal Govindhari
Diabetes mellitus now affects 65 million adults in India, which is likely to increase to over 130 million by 2045. Vision impairment and blindness from diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular edema (DME) will increase unless systems and services are put in place to reduce the incidence of DR and DME, and to increase access to diagnosis and effective treatment. In India, sight-threatening DR (STDR) affects 5%–7% of people with diabetes, i.e., 3–4.5 million. This will increase as the number of people with diabetes increases and they live longer. The main risk factors for DR and DME are increasing duration of disease and poor control of hyperglycemia and hypertension. There is strong evidence that good control of hyperglycemia and hypertension reduce the incidence of STDR: interventions which lead to better self-management, i.e., a healthier diet and regular exercise, are required as well as taking medication as advised. There are highly effective and cost-effective treatments for STDR and up to 98% of blindness can be prevented by timely laser treatment and/or vitreous surgery. Given this increasing threat, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust endorsed the development of evidence-based guidelines for the prevention, detection, and management of DR and DME, and for cataract surgery in people with diabetes, specific to India as a component of the national DR project it has supported.
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A partnership model for capacity-building of primary care physicians in evidence-based management of diabetic retinopathy in India p. 67
Sandeep Bhalla, Tanu Soni, Manoj Joshi, Vasudha K Sharma, Rajesh Mishra, Viswanathan Mohan, Ranjit Unnikrishnan, Ramasamy Kim, G V S Murthy, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Padmaja K Rani, Ramachandran Rajalakshmi
In India, more than 72 million people have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy (DR), a vision-threatening complication of people with diabetes, is an important cause of avoidable blindness. The delay in the detection of DR is due to lack of awareness and shortage of ophthalmologists trained in the management of DR. With this background, in 2015, we initiated a capacity-building program “Certificate Course in Evidence Based Management of Diabetic Retinopathy (CCDR)” with an objective to build the skills and core competencies of the physicians across India in the management of diabetes and DR. The program has completed four cycles and 578 physicians have been trained. The course elicited an excellent response, which reflects the much-felt need for skill improvement in DR diagnosis and management for physicians in India. This model demonstrates an innovative modality to address DR-related avoidable blindness in a resource-restraint country like India.
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Establishing peer support groups for diabetic retinopathy in India: Lessons learned and way ahead p. 70
Anirudh Gaurang Gudlavalleti, Clare Gilbert, Rajan Shukla, Uday Gajiwala, Ajay Shukla, G V S Murthy, Tripura Batchu, Sridivya Mukpalkar, MS Bala Vidyadhar, Azhar Sheikh
Purpose: Complications of diabetes mellitus (DM) are a public health problem globally. DM management entails medication and self-management. Peer support groups (PSGs) can improve self-management and promote healthy behavior. The objectives of this study were to design, establish, and evaluate two PSG models for people who had been screened for diabetic retinopathy to assess self-reported lifestyle changes, satisfaction with meetings and barriers to attendance. Methods: Peer groups were established using a pre-tested facilitator's guide in 11 locations in 3 states. Group members were oriented on diabetes management and lifestyle changes to improve control. Attendees' experiences were ascertained through semi-structured interviews and self-report. Data were analyzed using MS Excel 2017. Results: Eleven PSGs were established in 3 states, in 10 community health centers and one eye hospital. 53 sessions were held and 195 people attended on 740 occasions. Lifestyle changes most frequently reported between first and second visits were taking medication regularly and dietary modification. Attendance declined in the eye hospital group. 83% of CHCs members were satisfied or very satisfied compared with 37% of eye hospital (EH) members. The barriers included distance and lack of family support. Conclusion: PSGs held in CHCs were more sustainable than those in an eye hospital, and group members were more satisfied and more likely to report positive lifestyle changes. Findings were self-reported and hence a major limitation for the study. Further studies should focus on obtaining objective measures of control of diabetes and risk factors for diabetic retinopathy from members attending peer support groups in CHCs.
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A scalable, self-sustaining model for screening and treatment of diabetic retinopathy in rural Karnataka p. 74
Krishna R Murthy, Praveen R Murthy, Bhargavi Murali, V Basavaraju, BS Sindhu, Anusha Churi, Dinesh Kumar, BS Roopa, Giridhara R Babu, Suresh Shapeti, Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy
The Indian health infrastructure is struggling to handle the burgeoning number of people with diabetes. Managing the complications of diabetes in an organized manner through the government health programs is still a distant reality. Here, we describe a program aimed at addressing the problem of diabetic retinopathy in rural areas of Tumkur district in Karnataka. By amalgamating telescreening and our own novel distributive care model, we were able to screen 85% of the registered diabetics in the Government noncommunicable disease clinics and treat 95% of those needing laser therapy. We also describe the importance of using electronic medical records in public health programs which not only increase the efficiency in screening for disease but help in increasing uptake of treatment by tracking defaulters.
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Diabetes mellitus in the Tamil Nadu State—Noncommunicable diseases nurse model in diabetic retinopathy screening p. 78
Rengappa Ramakrishnan, Syed Mohideen Abdul Khadar, Karthik Srinivasan, Hariesh Kumar, Valaguru Vijayakumar
Tamil Nadu is one of the states in India, where the diabetic retinopathy (DR) project was implemented in the Tirunelveli District. Aravind Eye Hospital, Tirunelveli was the mentoring institution and ophthalmology department of Tirunelveli Medical College and Hospital (TVMCH) was the implementing partner. The objective of the project was to develop a district level model for building capacity at the government health system for effective screening, diagnosis and management (primary to tertiary) of diabetic retinopathy. The DR screening, counseling, referral and follow-up tasks were included in the scope of Non- Communicable Disease (NCD) nurses at the respective Community Health Centres and Primary Health Centres using the tele-medicine platform. During the project period (December 2016 to June 2019), 8,574 people with diabetes were registered at the 18 CHCs/PHCs. 6,462 (75.4% of those registered) were screened by NCD staff. The government has agreed to scale up services in 3 more districts.
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Diabetic retinopathy screening at primary and community health centers in Maharashtra p. 83
Ajay K Shukla, Smita Singh, Azhar Sheikh, Sanjay Singh, Girdharilal Gupta, Ravi Daberao
In order to integrate and improve eye care in noncommunicable disease (NCD) clinics, screening for diabetic retinopathy (DR) in people with diabetes mellitus (DM) was introduced in primary and secondary-level government health facilities. Initially, the project was carried out at the fixed health facilities at one district hospital (DH), two sub-district hospitals (SDH) and two community health centers (CHCs). This was combined with training of existing health care personnel, information-education-communication (IEC) campaign among patients and service providers along with the provision of essential equipment required for screening. In the revised strategy, NCD nurses were also trained for screening. Of 12,788 DM patients registered in NCD clinics, 63.8% (n = 8159) were screened for DR by trained paramedical ophthalmic assistants and the four trained NCD nurses using non-mydriatic fundus camera and teleophthalmology supported remote grading of retinopathy. DR was detected in 9.45% (n = 771) patients and sight-threatening DR (STDR) was detected in 2.35% (n = 192) in one or both eyes. Of 8,159 people screened, 55% (n = 4481) and 45% (n = 3678) were screened at CHC and mobile screening at primary health centers (PHC), respectively. DR screening in a fixed facility at CHC combined with the mobile screening at PHC level and fixed-day screening strategy provides effective coverage.
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Comprehensive diabetes care: The Goa model p. 88
Ankush K Desai, Ugam P S Usgaonkar, Vivek S Naik, Madan Deshpande, Rajan Shukla
Diabetes mellitus continues to increase in epidemic proportions globally as well as in India. Poor glycemic control in long-standing diabetes mellitus eventually leads to chronic complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetic retinopathy is emerging as an important cause of avoidable visual impairment and blindness in India across all strata of society. Much of this vision loss can be prevented by improving control of known risk factors, annual fundus screening, with prompt treatment of individuals with sight-threatening retinopathy. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has made a significant contribution by supporting such a program across India, including Goa. The newly established medical retina clinic at Goa Medical College now provides facilities for screening, a detailed evaluation of advanced retinopathy, and therapeutic modalities such as laser and intravitreal injections. The peripheral centers are equipped to screen all people with diabetes mellitus and refer those with sight-threatening retinopathy to the medical college. The provision of a foot scanner to evaluate the risk of foot ulcers and microalbuminuria assessment as part of the nephropathy screening would encompass the entire gamut of diabetic microvascular complications. The next decade would provide evidence if this initiative, with the enthusiastic partnership of the state government, results in reduction of blindness in the people of Goa and an overall reduction in diabetes-related morbidity and mortality.
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Assessment of diabetic retinopathy in type 1 diabetes in a diabetes care center in South India—Feasibility and awareness improvement study p. 92
Ramachandran Rajalakshmi, Coimbatore Subramaniam Shanthirani, Amutha Anandakumar, Ranjit Mohan Anjana, G V S Murthy, Clare Gilbert, Viswanathan Mohan
The prevalence of youth-onset diabetes, both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and young-onset type 2 diabetes (YT2D) are gradually increasing in India. Early and repetitive screening for diabetic retinopathy (DR) is essential to provide timely management, and thereby prevent visual impairment due to the silent sight-threatening microvascular complication of diabetes. A study was undertaken at a diabetes care center in Chennai, south India, to assess the feasibility of screening for DR in T1D in a diabetes clinic and determine the burden of sight-threatening DR (STDR) in individuals with T1D. 315 people with T1D were screened for DR (mean age at onset of diabetes 12.3 ± 6.4 years) by digital retinal color photography, at the urban diabetes center, in a semi-urban and rural diabetes clinic. Counseling about diabetes and the importance of annual screening for retinopathy was provided by diabetes educators. Participants were reviewed after 6 months/1 year based on ophthalmologist's advice. DR was detected in 37.1% (n = 117), 42 (13%) of whom had STDR.Three-quarter participants were compliant with the annual follow-up retinal examination. The peer support group was established for participants with T1D and their families to foster interactions with service providers. The peer group meetings helped to increase the awareness of retinopathy among the parents and individuals with T1D. This narrative provides details of the study that shows that screening for DR among individuals with T1D in a diabetes clinic is a feasible model, irrespective of its location.
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Screening model for diabetic retinopathy among patients with type 1 diabetes attending a tertiary care setting in India p. 96
Pradeep A Praveen, Pradeep Venkatesh, Nikhil Tandon
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common microvascular complication in young individuals with type 1 diabetes. It is recommended to implement structured screening programs and adopt an appropriate referral mechanism at all levels of the health system to prevent vision loss in this disease. We developed and pilot-tested the feasibility of a comprehensive DR screening model at a tertiary care diabetes clinic in India. The model comprised an affordable DR screening facility at the diabetes clinic, structured education sessions, and annual inhospital diabetes complication screening camps. Over the span of 2 years, we screened 413 eligible patients with type 1 diabetes and 17.4% (n = 72) had any form of DR in at least one eye. Half of the retinopathy positive patients had mild DR. However, only one-third of newly diagnosed patients reported to the eye care facility for DR management. Based on this study, it is feasible to screen all patients with type 1 diabetes for DR by increasing awareness and providing opportunities for DR screening at a tertiary care diabetes clinic. Our model combined with formal referral and follow-up systems would be a potentially scalable approach for DR prevention and management at diabetes care facilities in India.
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1800 121 2096 Diabeteshelp – A toll free helpline for people with diabetes p. 100
Sridivya Mukpalkar, Clare Gilbert, G V S Murthy, Anirudh G Gudlavalleti, Tripura Batchu, Supriya Edla, Vandana Hebrew, Leela Vemulapalli, Harika Janagama, Rajan Shukla, Vidyadhar M S Bala, Pavani Yamarthi, Suneetha Pendyala, Anusha Puppala
People with diabetes mellitus require long-term care that is timely, patient-centered, community-based and sustainable. Any deficiency in care increases the risk of developing complications like Diabetic Retinopathy. Patients or their carers also have numerous questions and doubts during this long-period of care. This increases the pressure on health systems that are struggling with a lack of skilled human resources. One option is to provide counseling support using a dedicated helpline. Over the last five years a major initiative to tackle visual impairment due to diabetes was rolled out in India by the Public Health Foundation of India supported by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, UK. One component of the initiative was establishing a toll-free helpline (1800 121 2096) to address the lack of awareness and to empower people with diabetes in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states in India. Over a 1-year period, the helpline received 4406 calls, making a case for a national service for people with diabetes.
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Retinopathy of prematurity: Overview and highlights of an initiative to integrate prevention, screening, and management into the public health system in India p. 103
Clare Gilbert, Rajan Shukla, G V S Murthy, Bala V M Santosha, Anirudh G Gudlavalleti, Srividya Mukpalkar, Pavani Yamarthi, Suneetha Pendyala, Anusha Puppala, Supriya Edla, Tripura Batchu, on behalf of the India ROP Partners Implementation Consortium
Purpose: In India, more than 800 special newborn care units (SNCUs) have been established since 2008 in government facilities. More preterm infants are now surviving and blindness from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is increasing. The aim of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust's initiative (2012–1019) was to improve the quality of neonatal care and integrate ROP services into the government health system using expertise in the government and nongovernment sector in four states in a sustainable and scalable manner. Methods: State Ministries of Health were engaged and collaboration was established between three government programs (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, and blindness prevention) and relevant professionals. Extensive training took place and equipment was provided. Implementation was guided by a multidisciplinary National Task Force and was monitored by state coordination committees. The Task Force appointed technical expert groups to support implementation through advocacy, information, education and communication materials, operational guidelines, a competency-based training curriculum, and an online database and website. Results: Twenty-two ophthalmologists in government facilities were trained to screen for ROP and nine to treat ROP. Almost 13,500 preterm infants were screened in 17 SNCUs and 86% of the 456 infants with sight-threatening ROP were treated. An educational resource using latest pedagogy based on key domain areas for best practices for small and preterm neonates including ROP has been developed and pilot tested and is being evaluated and scaled up. Conclusion: All four states are scaling up services or have plans to scale up, and several other states have started the initiatives.
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Operational guidelines for ROP in India: A summary p. 108
Rajan Shukla, G V S Murthy, Clare Gilbert, Bala Vidyadhar, Sridivya Mukpalkar
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding disease of the eye that can affect infants born four or more weeks preterm and have received intensive neonatal care. ROP is a dynamic, time-bound disease that is not present at birth. Preventing visual loss from ROP in India requires scaling up services for screening and treatment for ROP to match the exponential growth in neonatal intensive care in India and other low- and middle-income countries. Operational guidelines for prevention of visual loss from ROP will facilitate rapid scale up of services, by identifying key players and their roles and responsibility in the Indian context. The guidelines recommend broad eligibility criteria for screening (gestational age ≤34 weeks, birth weight ≤2000 gms) as the special newborn care unit (SNCU) have varying quality of neonatal care. Treatment is based on the early treatment for retinopathy of prematurity (ET-ROP) study treatment criteria. The screening criteria could be revisited when more contextual evidence on the risk of ROP is available in India.
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Development of a quality improvement package for reducing sight-threatening retinopathy of prematurity p. 115
Praveen Kumar, Deepak Chawla, Anu Thukral, Ashok Deorari, Rajan Shukla, Clare Gilbert
Purpose: With improving survival of preterm neonates, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is emerging as a major cause of childhood blindness. Incidence of sight-threatening ROP can be reduced by improving the quality of care provided to preterm neonates. Methods: This before-and-after study was designed to develop a need-based intervention package to improve knowledge, skills, and practices of those providing care for preterm neonates, and to evaluate the effectiveness of this package when combined with point-of-care quality improvement (POCQI) in improving survival of preterm neonates without sight-threatening ROP. The study had a formative component to assess baseline knowledge, skills, practices and attitudes, and to assess the needs of the healthcare staff to improve the care of preterm neonates. It was conducted in four special care neonatal units (SCNU) in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Results: A theory of change was developed to guide the development of study tools including needs assessment and educational package development. The educational package thus developed has been tested at the study sites in combination with POCQI projects driven by local teams of healthcare providers. The effectiveness of the interventions has been evaluated by collection of individual-level data on neonates admitted at the study sites. Conclusion: A multidimensional educational package integrated with system changes in the form of quality improvement (QI) endeavours driven by local context and needs were developed and evaluated in the project.
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Retinopathy of prematurity: Maharashtra state model p. 121
Sucheta Kulkarni, Sandeep Kadam, Archana Patil, Clare Gilbert
This report describes the goal, activities, and outcomes of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust funded retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) program in the state of Maharashtra in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India, Hyderabad. The project was initiated in July 2016 with the goal of establishing a sustainable ROP program in the special newborn care units (SNCUs) in public health facilities of five districts. Between 2016 and 2018, ophthalmology and neonatology teams from five district hospitals (DHs) were trained by nongovernment partner hospitals in the state. Infrastructure was developed by procuring equipment for ROP screening/treatment, and awareness generation activities were conducted with a range of stakeholders. Eight ophthalmologists were trained to perform ROP screening (from five DHs and one medical college), and five neonatology teams (pediatricians and nurses) from the project hospitals were trained in best neonatal practices to prevent ROP. The Pune district's hospital was developed as an ROP treatment center. Toward the end of the project period, six new facilities had an established ROP program. The state health department is in the process of scaling up the ROP program to a larger geographic region to ensure universal ROP screening coverage in the state of Maharashtra.
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Retinopathy of prematurity care in peripheral districts in Odisha, India: Pilot for a sustainable model p. 124
Tapas R Padhi, Lingaraj Pradhan, Srikanta K Padhy, Ashwani Meherda, Balakrushna Samantaray, Kumari K Patro, Sabita Devi, Mita Mishra, Sujit Mahapatra, Samir Sutar, Sameer R Nayak, Anup Kelgaonkar, Ashish Khalsa, Rajan Shukla, Clare Gilbert
The outcome of a retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) program initiated in five districts of Odisha over 3 years with partnerships between the government and non-government organizations was prospectively analyzed. The mentoring partners trained the district ophthalmologists and neonatal care providers; the program was handed over when the trainees were considered competent enough to diagnose and treat babies with ROP. During the project period (July 2016–June 2019), 3058 babies were examined; ROP was detected in 33.81% (n = 1034) and 5.06% (n = 159) babies required treatment. At the end of the project, ROP screening was possible in all five districts, and treatment was possible in three districts. ROP care nodal centers were built in one government medical college. To strengthen the initial gain, we recommend creating an Odisha Retinopathy of Prematurity (OD-ROP) steering committee with private–public partnerships to support the program and monitor its progress in other districts of Odisha.
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Establishing support groups to support parents of preterm babies with retinopathy of prematurity: A pilot study p. 128
Bala Vidyadhar S Malladi, Gowri K Iyer, G V S Murthy, Clare Gilbert, Rajan Shukla, Anirudh G Gudlavalleti, Pavani Yamarthi, Sridivya Mukpalkar
India has the highest number of preterm births in the world, which along with low birth weight, are significant risk factors for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). One of the challenges in combating visual loss from ROP is the lack of information and awareness among parents of preterm babies. The objective of establishing ROP parent support groups was to support parents of children with ROP by counseling, information and resource sharing, and general guidance. As part of a major initiative to combat ROP across four states in India, a strategy to develop parent support groups was developed and a pilot project was implemented in three cities. In collaboration with identified eye institutes, five ROP parent support group sessions were conducted in these cities. The concept is still in its initial stages of implementation and data are not yet available on the impact of the support groups. However, the overall turnout for the meetings was low as only 30% of parents invited attended meetings. Initial learning and experiences suggest that parent support groups could have a significant role to play in providing many benefits especially in improving awareness, knowledge, and compliance, alleviating anxiety, and empowering parents.
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