INTRODUCTION: Diabetic macular oedema (DMO) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) are the major causes of sight loss in people with diabetes. Due to the increased prevalence of diabetes, the workload related to these complications is increasing making it difficult for Hospital Eye Services (HSE) to meet demands. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Effectiveness of Multimodal imaging for the Evaluation of Retinal oedema And new vesseLs in Diabetic retinopathy (EMERALD) is a prospective, case-referent, cross-sectional diagnostic study. It aims at determining the diagnostic performance, cost-effectiveness and acceptability of a new form of surveillance for people with stable DMO and/or PDR, which entails multimodal imaging and image review by an ophthalmic grader, using the current standard of care (evaluation of patients in clinic by an ophthalmologist) as the reference standard. If safe, cost-effective and acceptable, this pathway could help HES by freeing ophthalmologist time. The primary outcome of EMERALD is sensitivity of the new surveillance pathway in detecting active DMO/PDR. Secondary outcomes include specificity, agreement between new and the standard care pathway, positive and negative likelihood ratios, cost-effectiveness, acceptability, proportion of patients requiring subsequent full clinical assessment, unable to undergo imaging, with inadequate quality images or indeterminate findings. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval was obtained for this study from the Office for Research Ethics Committees Northern Ireland (reference 17/NI/0124). Study results will be published as a Health Technology Assessment monograph, in peer-reviewed national and international journals and presented at national/international conferences and to patient groups. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03490318 and ISRCTN:10856638.
diabetic retinopathy, health economics, medical retina, organisational development, public health, qualitative research