If you are a person with diabetes and are over 12 years old you will have the opportunity to have your eyes checked (screened) each year. As part of the national screening programme, a free annual invitation for eye screening will be sent to you.
Even if your eyes are examined by your local optometrist or GP you will still be sent an invitation to have your eyes screened. Everyone with diabetes runs the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that may cause blindness or serious damage to your eyesight. In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy does not have any obvious symptoms so you may not realise you are developing this condition, this is the stage when treatment is most effective.
Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels at the back of the eye and is the most common cause of blindness among people with diabetes. Poor control of blood glucose and blood pressure increases your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Having your eyes screened is the ONLY way to detect the condition in its early stages, therefore it is very important that you attend your annual eye screening appointment.
Picture of Diabetic Retinopathy
Your Screening Appointment
You will be sent an invitation letter inviting you to phone Robert Doig Opticians to make an appointment at a time that is convenient for you. If you do not telephone within a certain time, a reminder will be automatically sent to you. After 3 weeks, you will be sent a final reminder to make an appointment. If, after 3 weeks you have still not made an appointment, a letter will be sent to your GP advising them that you have not made an appointment to have your eyes screened. You will be invited again in 12 months.
Most appointments take about ten minutes, during which, your vision will be checked and a photograph will be taken of your eyes. It may be necessary to put eye drops into your eyes in order to dilate your pupils. This may be required to obtain a good photograph of your eyes, in which case your appointment will take longer than usual (around 30 minutes). Around a quarter of people need eye drops, so you should come prepared for this. If eye drops are used, you may become temporarily sensitive to bright light, so you may wish to bring sunglasses. If you have not needed eye drops in the past, it is less likely you will need them in the future. Eye drops may also cause you to have blurred vision for several hours - therefore it is not advisable to drive after an appointment and you should make alternative arrangements for getting home safely. Sometimes the quality of the photograph is not good enough to examine accurately. In this case you will be asked to stay for a further examination using equipment called a slit lamp which uses a slightly brighter light. This examination is completely painless but we need to put eye drops into your eyes to dilate your pupils.
If you are unable to leave your home to attend your screening appointment, your GP can request that the Eye Screening Team visits you in your own home to carry out the test.
Your Screening Results
After your appointment, your photographs will be examined for signs of retinopathy. Your results will be sent to you within 20 working days of your screening appointment and your GP will have access to an electronic copy. If you have registered on the www.mydiabetesmyway.scot.nhs.uk website then you will also be able to see your retinal photograph along with all your other diabetes related results. If you have not registered yet then you can do so easily by clicking here.
If significant diabetic retinopathy is found in your photograph, referral for specialist opinion and possible treatment at an eye clinic will be automatically arranged if necessary. You will be informed of this in your result letter. The hospital eye clinic will then contact you with an appointment.