Diabetic retinopathy screening

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of sight loss in people of working age

Diabetic retinopathy is caused when diabetes affects small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that acts rather like a film in a camera.

There may be no symptoms during the early stages until it is quite advanced and close to affecting a person's sight. That's why screening is important as treatment is most effective when the disease is detected early.

All people with diabetes are at risk of getting diabetic retinopathy, but good control of blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure minimises this risk.

Getting screened

The NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme invites everyone aged 12 years and over with diabetes (types 1 and 2) for screening once a year. Pregnant women are offered additional tests due to risks to mother and baby associated with the condition.

Screening is provided in a variety of locations, including GP surgeries, hospitals and optician practices.

It is important not to confuse your screening appointment with the general eye tests you have with your optician. It is important to attend both.

Are you concerned?

If you have diabetes and start to notice problems with your vision, contact your GP or diabetes care team immediately.

Useful links

Other MyLife pages: Diabetes, Healthy eating, Healthy weight

External websites: The NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme, NHS Choices - Diabetic retinopathy, Diabetes UK