Everyone diagnosed with diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), aged 12 and above, will be invited to Diabetic Eye Screening. This will be repeated yearly with some exceptions for patients we have referred into the hospital eye services.

Contact information

1st Floor, Orchard Centre, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Great Western Road, Gloucester, GL1 3NN

To make an appointment, please call: 0300 422 4419

For other enquiries email

If you have recently attended your Diabetic Eye Screening appointment, we would appreciate your feedback. If you can spare 5 minutes to answer 10 short questions, please click on the following link

What is Screening, and who is it for?

Everyone diagnosed with diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), aged 12 and above, will be invited to Diabetic Eye Screening. This will be repeated yearly with some exceptions for patients we have referred into the hospital eye services.

Your diabetic eye screening appointment will last approximately 40 minutes. The screener will explain the process to you. They will ask for information about your diabetes medication and any pre-existing eye conditions. A vision test will be performed so please bring any glasses you use for distance vision. Eye drops will be used to dilate your pupils to enable the screener to take the clearest photographs possible. The eye drops can leave you with blurred vision for several hours (between 2 and 6 varying from person to person) so it is advisable not to drive until the effects wear off. Photographs of the retina will be taken using a specialist camera. The retina is the layer in the back wall of the eye that detects light, enabling us to see. Nothing touches your eyes, there will just be a bright flash of light when the photographs are taken. The photographs are sent to our grading team for thorough assessment. You will receive a results letter by post a few weeks later. Your GP will also be notified of the results to help them make decisions about your diabetes management.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for diabetic retinopathy which is damage to the small blood vessels in the retina of the eye, caused by high blood sugar levels. There are a number of small indicators of damage we can pick up on before the vision is affected. Diabetic retinopathy is preventable and treatable but if left can cause significant sight loss, even blindness.

Good diabetes management is the best way to defend against complications of diabetes such as diabetic retinopathy. However, even patients with good sugar control can sometimes develop retinopathy so it is very important to attend screening annually, to allow early detection and treatment of eye disease.

If you are considering not attending diabetic eye screening, please discuss this with your GP or ask to speak with one of our senior clinicians on 0300 422 4419.

About your appointment.

We hold Diabetic Eye Screening clinics at a wide range of venues across the county throughout the year. These include Gloucester Royal Hospital (GRH), Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH), many GP practices, community hospitals and on our mobile screening van. Some evening and Saturday clinics are available. We also provide a Drop-in service where patients without an appointment can turn up and be screened at:

GRH Monday-Friday 10:00-15:00

CGH Last Wednesday of every month 9:00-12:00

Your results explained.

Satisfactory (No diabetic retinopathy)

There were no signs of diabetic retinopathy found in the retinal images this year. You will be invited to a screening appointment in 1 year.

Background Retinopathy

Background retinopathy is the most common type of diabetic retinopathy. This early type is diagnosed in many people who have had diabetes for some time. The blood vessels in the retina are only mildly affected and the risk of progression can be reduced by good blood sugar control. Your annual retinal screening test will keep a close check on these early signs to ensure that any evidence of progression to a more serious stage of retinopathy will be detected early.

Pre-proliferative and Proliferative Retinopathy

Pre-proliferative and Proliferative Retinopathy means that more extensive effects of diabetes have been identified. Patients are referred to the Hospital Eye Service for monitoring at frequent intervals because there is an increased risk of the diabetic retinopathy affecting their sight and they may require treatment.

Diabetic Maculopathy

Diabetic maculopathy is diagnosed when the blood vessels in the macula area are affected and frequently requires monitoring more closely. Where necessary, there are treatments which can be offered to reduce the risk of sight loss. The macula in the eye is responsible for our fine central vision.

Unclear images

Occasionally we are unable to capture clear images of your eyes - this is not unusual and can be due to a variety of causes. If this happens to you, we will refer you to the Hospital Eye Service where different equipment will be used to assess the back of your eyes.

FAQs

I have retinopathy. What happens next?

This depends on the extent of diabetic retinopathy. If you have ‘Background Retinopathy’, it means there are early signs of diabetic retinopathy. It is important that you take strict measures to control your diabetes, but no referral is necessary at this point. We will screen you again in one year.

If more significant signs of retinopathy are found, we may invite you back for monitoring more frequently, or refer you directly to the eye doctors.

Why have I received a letter with an appointment date that I did not make?

Those who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, and those that are overdue their screening, may be given a pre-booked appointment. This can be amended and rearranged by giving our office a quick call if the pre-booked appointment time isn’t convenient.

Normally, we write to patients a little ahead of when they are due to be screened, so they can make an appointment themselves. Appointments can be made online or by telephone.

How long do the drops last?

The drops can affect your vision for up to six hours. You’ll experience slightly blurrier vision, and may find bright lights uncomfortable.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Please bring your glasses to complete the visual acuity test. Sunglasses can help with the increased sensitivity to light following your appointment. Information on your diabetes medication and a note of any eye conditions you have/are being treated for can be useful.

How long does the appointment take?

You may have your screening completed within 25 minutes but it may also take up to one hour. This depends on how well your pupils respond to the dilating drops.

Is it painful/will I lose my vision?

The drops can sting for a few seconds when they are first instilled but this soon passes. Your vision is blurred for a time but will return to normal in a few hours.

At the appointment we will inform you of a rare reaction patients can have to the drops and provide you with a phone number to the 24 hour help line to the eye department. This can used should you experience any discomfort following your appointment.

Results – When do I get my results?

Results will be sent to you by post within six weeks of your eye screening appointment.

Results – What does satisfactory mean?

It means the retinal photographs do not show any signs of diabetic retinopathy.

It is not a description of how well you performed on your vision test.

If I am “Diabetes Resolved” why do I still need screening?

Diabetes Resolved patients are still at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. For this reason, it is safer to continue attending screening.

I need transport, can you book it for me?

If you require hospital transport we are not able to book this for you. You will need to arrange this with the hospital transport service after booking an appointment with us.

I have had/am having cataract surgery so do I need to come to screening?

You will still need to attend your annual screening appointment while your cataracts are being assessed at the hospital. This is because the retina won’t be examined for diabetic retinopathy at your cataract appointments.

If you have recently had cataract surgery please allow two weeks following surgery before coming to be screened.

Cataract makes the lens of your eye less transparent, which can mean that the photographs we take may be hazy. If the pictures aren’t clear enough for us to complete our retinopathy check you may be referred to an eye doctor for your retinal examination.

Opting out.

The National Diabetic Eye Screening Programme stipulates that the local programme must receive written confirmation from a patient who wishes to not attend any screening appointments.

We have pre-printed ‘Opt Out’ forms we send to those that don’t wish to attend screening anymore. These have to be signed and returned to us in order for us to confirm you have ‘Opted Out’.

We will continue to send you invitation letters until we have received a signed ‘Opt Out’ form.

This decision should be made after conferring with your GP, as it can have serious consequences on the health of your eyes/vision.

After a maximum of three years of opting out, we will resume inviting you to screening.

BEST CARE FOR EVERYONE