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Diabetic retinopathy is caused when diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that acts rather like a film in a camera. Screening is an effective way of detecting diabetic retinopathy as soon as possible. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of blindness in the working-age population. Diabetic retinopathy does not usually affect your sight until changes are advanced. Annual screening is an effective way of preventing sight loss caused by diabetes.
All patients aged 12 and over, with a diagnosis of diabetes should participate in the diabetic eye screening programme. This is the best way to ensure that risk of losing your sight is managed. Patients who have had bariatric surgery or no longer show the symptoms of diabetes should still attend for screening. Recent national guidance has confirmed this position.
The National screening programme state the following:
“once there is or has been a definite diagnosis of diabetes, excluding gestational diabetes, the patient should be screened for diabetic retinopathy annually for life.
For those patients who had steroid induced diabetes whose diabetes is now ‘resolved’ the decision about screening should be made on a case by case basis. If there is any doubt, the patient should continue to be offered screening.”
Diabetic Eye Screening Animation of a screening appointment. Commissioned by BARS & Bristol Community Health. Copyright of Kate Broadhurst.
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