Diabetic eye screening

Everyone with diabetes aged 12 or over should be invited to have their eyes screened once a year.

If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it’s not treated.

Screening, which involves a 30-minute check to examine the back of the eyes, is a way of detecting the condition early so it can be treated more effectively.

  • Diabetic eye screening is a test to check for eye problems caused by diabetes.
  • Eye problems caused by diabetes are called diabetic retinopathy. This can lead to sight loss if it’s not found early.
  • The eye screening test can find problems before they affect your sight.
  • Pictures are taken of the back of your eyes to check for any changes.
  • If you have diabetes and you’re aged 12 or over, you’ll get a letter asking you to have your eyes checked at least once a year.


You can get other versions of diabetic eye screening information, including an easy read guide, an audio guide and guides in other languages.

You’ll get a letter about the test

If you have diabetes and you’re aged 12 or over, you’ll get a letter every year asking you to have an eye screening test.

Sometimes you may have a choice of:

  • when you have the test
  • where you have the test – there may be more than 1 place to choose from in your area

Follow the instructions on the letter to book a test.

What to do if you do not get a letter

If it’s been more than a year since your last test and you have not had a letter, tell either:

Information:Tell your local eye screening service if you choose not to have the test. Their contact details are on the letter you get.

Before the test:

  • plan how you’ll get to and from the test – do not drive, as your sight may be blurry for a few hours afterwards
  • bring all the glasses and contact lenses you wear, along with contact lens solution
  • bring sunglasses – everything can look very bright for a few hours after the test
  • eat and drink as normal

You might want to bring someone with you, or ask someone to collect you after the test.

What happens during the test

  1. You’ll be asked to read some letters on a chart first.
  2. Drops are then put in your eyes. These may sting for a few seconds. The drops make your sight blurry after about 15 minutes.
  3. When the drops start working, you’ll be asked to look into a camera. The camera will not touch your eyes.
  4. Pictures are taken of the back of your eyes. There will be a bright flash when a picture is taken.

Your appointment will usually last about 30 minutes.

After the test

You can go home when the test is finished.

For up to 6 hours after the test:

  • your sight may be blurry – do not drive until it goes back to normal
  • everything can look very bright – wearing sunglasses can help

You will not get your test result on the day.

You’ll get a letter about your result within 6 weeks.

You’ll get a letter about your result within 6 weeks of having an eye screening test.

Tell your GP practice if you do not get a letter within 6 weeks.

There are 3 types of result.

No eye changes

This is called no retinopathy.

This means:

  • no changes to your eyes were found
  • you’ll be asked to come back for another test in a year

Some changes to your eyes

This is called background retinopathy.

This means:

Eye damage that could affect your sight

This is called referable retinopathy.

This means:

  • diabetes has damaged your eyes
  • your sight could be affected
  • you’ll be referred to a specialist to talk about what happens next
  • you may need to have screening tests more often
  • you may need treatment for eye damage from diabetes

Information:Sometimes the pictures of your eyes may not be clear enough to give a result. If this happens, you’ll be asked to have another test.

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