Effectiveness of telemedicine diabetic retinopathy screening in the USA: a protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis

Tania Padilla Conde, Lauren Robinson, Paras Vora, S. Lee Ware, Arnold Stromberg, Ana Bastos de Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of vision loss among adults in the USA. Vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy can be prevented with timely ophthalmologic care, and therefore, it is recommended that individuals with diabetes have annual retinal examinations. There is limited evidence on whether using telemedicine to screen for DR in primary care clinics in the USA effectively leads to increased DR screening rates. The objective of this systematic review is to collate evidence from existing studies to investigate the effectiveness of telemedicine DR screening (TDRS) in primary care clinics on DR screening rates. Methods: Relevant studies will be identified through searching MEDLINE/PubMed interface, Scopus, and Web of Science from their inception until November 2021, as well as searching reference lists of included studies and previous related review articles or systematic reviews. There will be no restrictions on study design. Eligible studies will include subjects with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, will evaluate telemedicine technology for screening of DR, will have been conducted in the USA, and will report DR screening rates or data necessary for calculating such rates. Two reviewers will screen search results independently. Risk-of-bias assessment and data extraction will be carried out by two reviewers. The version 2 of the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool (RoB 2) and the Newcastle-Ottawa scale (NOS) tool will be used to assess the quality and validity of individual studies. If feasible, we will conduct random-effects meta-analysis where appropriate. If possible, we will conduct subgroup analyses to explore potential heterogeneity sources (setting, socio-economic status, age, ethnicity, study design, outcomes). We will disseminate the findings through publications and relevant networks. Discussion: This protocol outlines the methods for systematic review and synthesis of evidence of TDRS and its effect on DR screening rates. The results will be of interest to policy makers and program managers tasked with designing and implementing evidence-based services to prevent and manage diabetes and its complications in similar settings. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42021231067.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Ana Bastos de Carvalho receives research support from NCATS UL1TR001998, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Institutional Physician Scientist Career Development Program; the Diabetes Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis of the National Institutes of Health under award number P30DK020579; and the Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation Ignite Award (2019 Ed). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of any funders.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Diabetic eye disease
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Telemedicine
  • Teleophthalmology
  • Teleretinal screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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