Blindness is one of the most widespread final pathways of diabetic retinopathy and its associated diabetic macular edema. The general practitioners are the first to encounter these diabetic patients. Fundoscopy is now considered as an ideal way for the diagnosis of patients with diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, this study was undertaken to know the ability and skills of general practitioners for the diagnosis and management of patients with diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.
This study was conducted in all major cities in Qassim province of Saudi Arabia during January to May 2017. A validated questionnaire was used to assess the general practitioners’ knowledge and practice for the management of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Questions related to referrals, diagnosis, and treatment options to diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema were asked to the general practitioners.
Of 96 general practitioners, 76 returned the questionnaire with a response rate of 79.2%. Only 26.3% general practitioners referred patients with type 1 diabetes to ophthalmologists as per guidelines set by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, whereas 74% of general practitioners showed good knowledge for referring patients with type 2 diabetes to ophthalmology clinics. Lack of knowledge was also noticed for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, as only 36.8% of general practitioners replied positive for dilated fundus examination option, whereas 78.9% of general practitioners chose laser photocoagulation as a treatment option. Similar response from them was observed for patients with diabetic macular edema. Furthermore, data also showed years in practice of general practitioners was well correlated with their knowledge for the management of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.
The general practitioners included in this study showed lack of knowledge in handling patients with diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Therefore, refresher courses are needed that highlight the acquisition of their skills in fundoscopy.

© The Author(s) 2020.