Did you know?
If you’re diabetic, you should already be part of a screening programme, if you are not, your GP can arrange this for you. In certain parts of the country, we provide this regular screening service on behalf of the NHS.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms, so you may not even know you have it.
But screening can detect the condition before you notice any changes to your vision. If it is detected early enough, management of the condition can stop it getting worse. Otherwise, by the time symptoms become noticeable, it can be much more difficult to treat.
You should receive a letter from your local Diabetic Eye Screening Service inviting you to attend a screening appointment. The letter will include a leaflet about diabetic eye screening. The check takes about 30 minutes and involves examining the eyes and taking photographs of the retina to assess its health.
Bring all the glasses and contact lenses you wear, along with lens solution for contacts.
Contact your local screening service or your GP if you have not received a letter and your appointment is overdue.
Sir Steve Redgrave on diabetes
Sir Steve Redgrave CBE already won four Olympic gold medals in four consecutive games when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1997.
Well into his preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, it was a bombshell that could have made many give up. But three years later, at the age of 38, he collected his fifth gold medal in the coxless four.
The sporting legend, now 56, has teamed up with Specsavers and RNIB to raise awareness of the importance of eyecare, which he says plays a key role in helping him monitor his diabetes.
What help is available?
Photographs from your check will be assessed by a number of specialists, including someone who is trained in identifying and grading retinopathy. Within six weeks, both you and your GP should receive a letter with your results.
Drops may be used to examine your eyes in a diabetic appointment – these can temporarily affect your vision. Please check when making the appointment if you will be able to drive immediately after the appointment.
You may need to have a further assessment if:
- The photographs are not clear enough to give an accurate result
- You have retinopathy that could affect your sight and follow-up treatment is needed
- You have retinopathy that needs to be checked more than once a year
- Other eye conditions are detected, such as glaucoma or cataracts
If your results show no retinopathy or background retinopathy, you will be invited back for another screening appointment a year later.
If you have sight problems in between screening appointments, such as sudden vision loss or deterioration in your vision, seek immediate advice by contacting your optician, GP or NHS 111. Do not wait until your next screening appointment.