Diabetic eye screening checks for diabetic retinopathy which is a complication of the illness that can lead to sight loss if not detected early and treated. Caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the blood vessels at the back of the eye, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness and is one of the most common cause of sight loss in people of working age.
Anyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes from the age of 12 is invited to attend screening. Early detection through screening allows prompt treatment even before any change of vision is noticed and an early diagnosis can be the difference between saving your sight and losing it. Diabetic eye screening is different from your normal eye examination with an optician.
The screening appointment lasts around 20 minutes during which your vision will be measured, eye drops will be administered to dilate the pupils and photos will be taken of the back of your eye. Your images will be examined in detail and results will be posted to you.
Everyone who has received a diagnosis of diabetes should be screened for diabetic retinopathy for life. Even if you think your diabetes is well controlled or you no longer show the symptoms of diabetes it’s still important to attend your annual diabetic eye screening appointment, as this can detect signs of a problem before you may even notice anything is wrong.
Derek Smart from Higham was recently diagnosed with diabetes, he said: “I was devastated when I was diagnosed with diabetes and vowed to do all I could to reverse the diagnosis. I have worked so hard over the last 12 months on my diet and exercise and was delighted to be told by my GP my diabetes was in remission. I assumed this meant I was not at risk of diabetic retinopathy so I ignored my appointment letters. When my daughter found out I was not attending my screening appointments she told me I still should receive regular monitoring even though my diabetes is in remission.”
Kate King, Barnsley and Rotherham Lead Nurse and Programme Manager, said: “Screening is a way of detecting diabetic retinopathy early before you notice any changes to your vision, usually in the early stages there are no obvious symptoms. Most diabetic eye complications can be treated if caught early enough and blindness can be prevented in 90% of cases. If you have diabetes there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of sight loss as well as attending your annual screening appointments make sure you exercise regularly, eat well and control your blood sugar levels and avoid smoking.”
If you think you have missed your diabetic eye screening appointment please contact your Diabetic Eye Screening Programme Team on:
- Barnsley and Rotherham Hospitals, Tel: 01226 434576
- Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Bassetlaw Hospital, Tel: 01302 642596
- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Tel: 0114 271 1900
This video, produced by the South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Diabetic Eye Screening team, demonstrates what a routine diabetic eye screening programme entails and why it is so important to attend: https://youtu.be/5YDAdHscCrE