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Diabetic Eye Screening


What is diabetic eye screening?

Profile of diabetic eye screening

  • Patients aged 12 and over are referred to the programme by their General Practice
  • We are responsible for inviting, screening, grading & referring to the Hospital Eye Services as required
  • The Kent and Medway programme has almost 110,000 patients with diabetes
  • The Programme has a team of qualified Retinal Screeners and Booking Office Administrators to support the service


What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is caused when diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that acts rather like a film in a camera. Screening is an effective way of detecting diabetic retinopathy as soon as possible. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of blindness in the working-age population. 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?

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. Patients who have had bariatric surgery or no longer show the symptoms of diabetes should still attend for screening. Recent national guidance has confirmed this position.

The National screening programme state the following:

“once there is or has been a definite diagnosis of diabetes, excluding gestational diabetes, the patient should be screened for diabetic retinopathy annually for life.

For those patients who had steroid induced diabetes whose diabetes is now ‘resolved’ the decision about screening should be made on a case by case basis. If there is any doubt, the patient should continue to be offered screening.”


Digital photography examination


Diabetic Eye Screening Animation of a screening appointment. Commissioned by BARS & Bristol Community Health. Copyright of Kate Broadhurst.


Following your screening

  • Up to three accredited healthcare professionals will access your pictures so the screener will not be able to give a result at the time of your appointment.
  • We do aim to review your images quickly and send your result within ten days. (Do not worry if you receive your letter any sooner than this).
  • If we do find anything that requires further review, we will refer you to the Hospital Eye Service.
  • When assessing the images taken of your eyes we follow strict grading guidelines as stipulated by the NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme.
  • Less than 1 in 10 people who attend the eye screening appointment will require a referral.


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