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Diabetic RetinaScreen in pregnancy

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your risk of diabetic retinopathy may increase during pregnancy.

Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who get pregnant need eye screening more often.

Ask your diabetes nurse or midwife about eye screening during pregnancy.

You do not need diabetic eye screening if you develop gestational diabetes.

Why diabetic retina screening in pregnancy is important

Diabetic retina screening checks for changes in your retina (back of your eyes). These changes could affect your sight or cause other eye problems.

The risk of serious eye problems is greater during pregnancy.

Early treatment of retinopathy can reduce or prevent damage to your sight.

Referral for Diabetic RetinaScreen while pregnant

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and get pregnant, your midwife, diabetes nurse or hospital doctor will register you with Diabetic RetinaScreen.

Diabetic RetinaScreen will arrange a screening appointment for you.

Diabetic retina screening appointments in pregnancy

You will be offered screening twice during your pregnancy:

If we find early stages of retinopathy at your first screening, we will offer you another test between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.

A screening appointment will last about 30 minutes.

More information about your appointment

What to expect during your appointment

Diabetic eye screening uses special digital photography to look for changes in your retina (back of your eyes) that could affect your sight.

Having the digital photos taken of your eyes is painless. The camera does not come in contact with your eyes.

Drops will be put into your eyes to make your pupils larger for a short time. It is safe to get these drops while you are pregnant. They may sting for a few seconds and affect your sight for 4 to 6 hours. Do not drive a vehicle or use machinery after your appointment.

If you need treatment for diabetic retinopathy, the treatment is also safe during pregnancy.

After your appointment

We will send a letter about your test results to you, your GP, and the person who referred you for eye screening.

You will get this letter within 3 weeks of your test. It will explain your results and next steps.

Your results

Most people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes will have a normal result. This means that you have no retinopathy. We will invite you back for diabetic retinopathy eye screening when your next test is due.

If you have early changes to your retina (back of your eye), we will invite you for more frequent screening.

If you need treatment, we will refer you to a Diabetic RetinaScreen treatment clinic in a hospital. This follow-up assessment and treatment is free.

Diabetic retina screening results

Further appointments

We will offer you another appointment if:

  • the photographs we take in the screening test are not clear enough to give a result
  • you have diabetic retinopathy that needs to be assessed
  • we detect other eye conditions that are not caused by diabetes

Page last reviewed: 12 June 2023
Next review due: 12 June 2026