People with diabetes are at risk of an eye disease linked to diabetes known as diabetic retinopathy.  Diabetic retinopathy can lead to changes to the back of the eye causing partial or severe loss of vision.  You might have diabetic retinopathy and be unaware of it.

PREVENTING DIABETIC EYE DISEASE

Two ways to reduce the risks from diabetic eye disease are:

  • Good control of your diabetes and blood pressure
  • Regular checking of your eyes by an accredited diabetic eye screening service

The current recommendation is for people with diabetes to have their eyes screened once a year.  Screening helps to control the risk of problems caused by diabetic retinopathy as early treatment with lasers can help prevent sight loss.

DIGITAL DIABETIC RETINOPATHY EYE SCREENING

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There is now a national programme for diabetic retinopathy eye screening which both our Moseley and West Heath practice’s are part of.  The screening is carried out by taking digital photographs of the back of the eyes.  The photographs are reviewed by trained screening staff and, where required, seen for a second opinion by a hospital doctor.
You are then recommended either for yearly eye screening or another appointment is arranged to decide on treatment. 

Left: A Fundus Camera      

THE SCREENING APPOINTMENT

During your eye screening appointment, your eyes will be thoroughly examined.  This will involve putting drops into your eyes which will open up your pupils allowing for a better view of the back of your eyes.

PICTURE BELOW: PHOTOGRAPH OF THE BACK OF THE EYE

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You will place your chin on a support whilst photographs of the back of your eyes are taken.
Photographs are a great improvement in the screening programme because:

  • They show the exact condition of your eyes on that particular day
  • They can be compared with photographs from your previous screenings to look for changes
  • They can be reviewed by the specialist so you don’t have to go to lots of appointments for a diagnosis

The drops can make your vision blurry and make your eyes sensitive to bright lights.  You might find a pair of sunglasses helpful and you should not drive to and from your screening appointment.  This may take between 2 and 4 hours, although it might be more or less for some people.
Very rarely, a few hours after having these drops, you may develop a painful eye.  If you do, go to your local Eye Casualty department immediately.
The Outcome
You and your doctor will be informed of the outcome of the screening in writing within six weeks of your photographs being taken.  You will then either be re-called for a routine screening one year later, or an appointment will be made for you to attend the local hospital eye clinic for further investigation.