Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. It is caused by high blood glucose (sugar) levels damaging the back of the eye (retina).
It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated. It usually takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach a stage where it could threaten your sight.
There are about 190,000 people in Ireland with diabetes. 19,000 of them are at risk of developing vision loss due to retinopathy.
Diabetic retina screening
The Diabetic RetinaScreen programme is for people in Ireland with diabetes and who are at risk of retinopathy.
Diabetic retina screening is available free of charge, once a year. It's for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes aged 12 years and older.
If you have a result of no retinopathy in your previous 2 screenings, your next screening invitation will be 2 years from the time of your last screen.
This will reduce the number of screening appointments and reduce unnecessary clinic visits and examinations.
Screening is a way of detecting any changes to the small blood vessels in the lining at the back of your eye. It involves having a photo taken of your eyes with a digital camera.
If diabetic eye disease is found early, treatment can reduce or prevent damage to your sight.
The longer you have had diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.
Register for diabetic retina screening
To register, you can fill in a registration form online. You will need to print this form out and have it signed by your GP.
You can also ask your GP, practice nurse, dietitian or eye doctor to register you.
You will be asked to give your consent to be added to the diabetic retinopathy screening register.
Your diabetic retina screening appointment
Once you've given us your consent, we will send you an invitation to attend a free screening appointment at your local screening centre.
If you are under 16 you must be accompanied by your parent or guardian.
Limitations of screening
Like all screening, diabetic retinopathy screening is not 100% reliable.
Diabetic retinopathy screening looks only for diabetic retinopathy. It may not detect other eye problems. The screening is not a replacement for your regular eye exam. This is why it's important to see your GP, optician or eye doctor if you notice changes to your sight.
If you notice changes to your sight
If you have sight problems between screening appointments, get immediate medical advice. Do not wait until your next screening appointment. These changes could include sudden vision loss, sensitivity to light or a deterioration in your vision.
Managing your diabetes
The choices that you make every day have a huge impact on how you treat diabetes. The foods you eat, keeping active and managing your weight, will help you to manage your blood glucose, your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.