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Diabetes eye checks (retinal screening)

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Optometrist examining woman with a slit lampDiabetes can badly damage your eyes before you notice any change in your sight.

Getting a diabetes eye check (retinal screening) is very important for saving your sight. A diabetes eye check is used to pick up any damage to your eyes so it can be treated before you lose sight. This is different to a normal eye check for your glasses.

Your eye‑care professional will usually put drops in your eye to make the pupil (black part of your eye) bigger. They will then take a photograph of the back of your eye. Sometimes they will look at the back of your eye through a special light (split lamp).

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should have a diabetes eye check five years after being diagnosed with diabetes. Then have one at least every two years.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you should have a diabetes eye check when you are first diagnosed with diabetes. Then have one at least every two years.

Your eye‑care professional may recommend you have a diabetes eye check more often than every two years.

You don't have to pay for a diabetes eye check.

Your GP or diabetes clinic team will refer you to have the eye check.

On the next page: Treating diabetic retinopathy

Written by Canterbury Optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2019.

Sources

Page reference: 139213

Review key: HIDYE-139181