This site is intended for health professionals only

People with diabetes not getting retinal screening

Three quarters of a million people with diabetes in England are at risk of losing their sight because they are not being screened for diabetic retinopathy, the primary cause of blindness in the UK's working-age population.

Diabetes UK is calling for everyone aged 12 and over diagnosed with diabetes to have free retinal screening with a digital camera every year.

Simon O'Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy Services at Diabetes UK, says: "It is appalling that a third of people with diabetes in England are not getting free digital retinal screening every year. If retinopathy is caught early and treated properly then blindness can be prevented in 90% of cases, so the simple screening process really could save the sight of hundreds of thousands of people.

"Retinal screening services in England are patchy. PCTs need to ensure they are reaching out to all eligible people to invite them for screening, and in turn people with diabetes must make every effort to get to these vital appointments. If they have problems attending they can talk to their healthcare team about what help and support is available."

Latest government figures show that 762,673 people with diabetes aged 12 and over in England did not receive digital retinal screening in the year ending March 31 2008. The national average for people that did receive screening was 67.7%. Almost 60% of PCTs (94 out of 152) failed to meet their target of offering all people with diabetes the chance to be screened during this time.

Diabetes UK