In the Know: Diabetic eye screening

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As it’s National Eye Health week we have a blog from Ophthalmology discussing the importance of a Diabetic eye screening!

What is a Diabetic eye screening?

Diabetic eye screening is a annual test which all people with diabetes over the age of 12, are offered. It is an important part of diabetes care and one which should be attended as often as necessary. Screening aims to catch any sight-threatening retinopathy caused by diabetes at its earliest stage and potentially save vision. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss, so being able to spot any changes before it advances is essential.

Results are then sent via post to both yourself and your GP within 3-4 weeks with confirmation of the next steps.
If all images are clear and there is no sign of diabetic retinopathy, you will be seen in a year’s time but if there are signs, we may ask you to have more photographs sooner or refer you to the hospital eye service for more investigation and possible treatment.

What is Diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the retina and the vessels within it. We check for early signs of diabetic retinopathy including bleeds and swellings on the vessels or macula. We can also see any advanced stage retinopathy including new vessels forming, scar tissue and large bleeds.
Diabetic retinopathy, if left untreated, can cause loss of vision. In its early stages, it is usually symptomless with a majority of people being unaware there are any changes occurring. At the more advanced stages you may experience gradually worsening vision, sudden vision loss, shapes floating in vision (floaters), blurred or patchy vision, eye pain or redness of the front of the eye. You are more at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy if:
• You have had diabetes for a long time
• You have persistently high blood sugar levels
• You have high blood pressure
• You have high cholesterol
• You are pregnant
• You are of Asian or Afro-Caribbean background

Why is it important?

It is highly important that you attend your diabetic eye screening appointments. Screening helps to prevent the progression of sight-threatening retinopathy through early detection and early treatment. 
When you first register at the new GP practice in Nottingham, they will refer you to us for your diabetic eye screening. If you get screened at home and would prefer to stay with your previous screening programme, please contact us either via phone (0115 919 4411) or email (eyescreening@nuh.nhs.uk). We can always postpone or exclude you from our programme if you prefer to be seen at home and this can be arranged over phone or email.
If you do not have diabetes but have concerns around your eye health, please contact an optician who can perform a full sight test for you. Most people will be seen every two years for a regular sight test or yearly if closer monitoring is necessary. If you have concerns around diabetes, please contact your GP. Most pharmacies now offer a simple blood sugar test as well so you may find it useful to speak to a pharmacy if you do have any concerns.


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