What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.
To minimise the risk of this happening, people with diabetes should:
- ensure they control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol
- attend diabetic eye screening appointments – annual screening is offered to all people with diabetes aged 12 and over to pick up and treat any problems early on
Diabetic retinopathy does not usually affect your sight until changes are advanced. Annual screening is an effective way of preventing sight loss caused by diabetes.
Who should be screened?
Screening is an effective way of detecting diabetic retinopathy as soon as possible.
All patients aged 12 and over, with a diagnosis of diabetes should participate in the diabetic eye screening programme. This is the best way to ensure that risk of losing your sight is managed.
The screening test involves examining the back of the eyes and taking photographs. Depending on your result, you may be advised to return for another appointment a year later, attend more regular appointments, or discuss treatment options with a specialist.
How can I access screening?
Everyone with diabetes who is 12 years old or over is invited for eye screening once a year. If it’s been more than a year since your last test and you have not had a letter, you can contact your GP practice or optician.