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 but this can be 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.
Therefore it is important you attend your annual eye screening appointment.
Your Screening Appointment
You will be sent clear instructions on where and when to attend for screening. If the time and/or date of your appointment is not suitable, contact the number shown on the invitation letter as soon as possible so that a new appointment can be made.
If you forget to attend an appointment, please conact the screening office to book another appointment at a time and date which is convenient. If we do not hear from you, you will be sent two reminder letters. If you still do not contact us after these two letters, you will be invited again for screening 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 and obtain a good photgraph of your eyes, in which case your appointment will take longer than usual. 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.
Dundee and Perth City Areas
Screening is conducted with a static camera in the Diabetes Centre at Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary.
Hospital based screening
- People who live in the Dundee and Perth and the surrounding area will be automatically sent an appointment on an annual basis, although some people will be called for on a 6 monthly basis.
- For those people attending their routine annual diabetic review at Ninewells Hospital, the eye screening office will try to ensure your screening appointment is made on the same morning/afternoon as your diabetic clinic appointment.
- Details of people newly diagnosed with diabetes are notified to the Screening Service by their GP; and will be sent an appointment for screening within 12 weeks from diagnosis.
- Those people who attend the Hospital Eye Clinic for diabetic related conditions may not need screening and should telephone the Screening Service to let us know.
Perthshire and Angus Areas
To ensure screening is performed as near to where people live as possible screening is also conducted from mobile units which visit Health Centres in turn as part of a pre-arranged programme. People living in Perthshire and Angus areas may also be screened at a static site such as Montrose Links Health Centre, Crieff Community Hospital.
Regrettably, there is no access for wheelchairs in the mobile units and people will be required to climb four high steps into the van. People unable to enter the van may be screened at a nearby static site as described above.
All appointments are made by the Screening Service. If you want to contact us, please telephone 01382 633956 between 0900 and 1200 Monday to Friday. Alternatively, if you telephone after 1200 you can leave a message and someone will get back to you.
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.
Sometimes the quality of the photograph is not good enough to examine accurately. In this case you will be asked to return for 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. Slit lamp clinics are hospital based clinics however, if it is necessary to send you to one, we will ensure you are appointed to the nearest clinic.
If significant diabetic retinopathy is seen 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.
By having your eyes checked each year for diabetic retinopathy you can help protect your sight