Retinal Screening

Retinal photography has become the preferred screening tool for diabetic retinopathy and is usually performed by an Optometrist or Ophthalmology practice.

Through the IDEAS Initiative, Retinal Screening Cameras have been given to Aboriginal Medical Services. By training health workers to take the images, rural and remote communities and especially diabetes patients, can have their annual eye screening close to home.

The adjudicated images are graded then used to determine those patients who need to be referred by their GP to the IDEAS Van for treatment. This saves unnecessary travelling time for patients and the associated costs.

Role of the AMSScreening LocationsGrading

Access to the IDEAS Van is by GP referral from the local Aboriginal Medical Service. Patients are pre-screened with the non-mydriatic camera. Specially trained health workers manage the pre-screening process. Based on a grading report, an appointment is scheduled for further investigation or treatment by the Ophthalmologist and/or Optometrist.

The project builds the capacity of Aboriginal Medical Services to deliver enhanced diabetes care through up-skilling Aboriginal Health Workers in their knowledge of diabetes and diabetes eye disease.


To extend the reach of the cameras, custom made boxes can safely transport the camera to very small communities with a trained health worker from a nearby Aboriginal Medical Service taking the images.

Retinal photos are adjudicated by Professor Paul Mitchell of the Centre for Vision Research, Westmead Millennium Institute. The IDEAS Initiative is offered this service through the Institute’s Reading Centre. Images are electronically transmitted under strict privacy and cultural guidelines.