Researchers have found that taking a personalised approached to diabetic eye screening could result in a significant cost saving for the NHS.

Led by Professor Simon Harding and Dr Deborah Broadbent from the University of Liverpool, the results of a seven-year study were published in Diabetologia.

It included over 4,500 patients, who were put into two groups to ascertain whether a personalised approach to screening was more beneficial than yearly screening.

Professor Harding said: ‘This study shows how introducing new digital technologies can improve routine healthcare. We can more effectively monitor the eyes of people with diabetes, save them money travelling to and from clinics and free up much needed funds for the NHS.’

In the personalised approach, the time between each screening was dependant on the amount of retinopathy and the level of control of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Patients were then given either six, 12 or 24 month appointments if they were classed as at high, medium or low risk of developing sight threatening disease.

It revealed that 81.9% of patients in the individualised group were deemed to be low risk patients and therefore did not need to be screened every year.

This meant they only needed to attend an NHS appointment every two years, saving them time off work, travel costs and inconvenience.

It also meant that 43.2% fewer appointments were required, releasing £27.2m per year or £19.73 per patient per year, with a societal cost saving of £26.19 per patient per year.

In addition, diabetic retinopathy was detected earlier in those who were high-risk in the individualised group verses the control group.

The Individualised Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy trial was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and was hosted by St Paul’s Eye Unit at Liverpool University NHS Foundation trust and the University of Liverpool.