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HealthInfo Canterbury

Diabetes eye checks (retinal screening)

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Diabetes can badly damage your eyes before you notice any change in your vision.

Most people with early diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms. Even with the more dangerous sight-threatening form of diabetic retinopathy, people sometimes have no symptoms until it is too late to treat them. For this reason, you should have your eyes examined regularly by an eye-care professional.

A diabetes eye check is different to a normal eye check for your glasses. A special diabetes eye check is called retinal screening. Ask your GP to refer you to the Canterbury DHB Ophthalmology (eye) Department so you can go on to the publicly funded retinal screening programme.

Or you can choose to pay for a private ophthalmologist or optometrist to do your retinal screening.


Everyone who has diabetes should have a special diabetes eye checks (retinal screening) every two years from the time they are diagnosed with diabetes. You do not have to pay for diabetes retinal screening as it is funded by the public health system.

In Canterbury, diabetic eye screening is carried out by the Canterbury Diabetic Retinopathy Photographic Screening Service.

On the next page: How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

Written by Canterbury Optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Ophthalmology, Canterbury DHB. Page created April 2015.


Page reference: 139213

Review key: HIDYE-139181