What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic Eye Screening Programme

Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness in the UK. Diabetes can affect the blood vessels, causing them to leak in the back of the eye (the retina); this is known as diabetic retinopathy.

Having your eyes screened regularly will help detect any changes caused by diabetes. Even if you feel your vision is fine, it is still important that you attend eye screening.

Diabetic eye disease can harm your vision, though you may not experience any symptoms until it is at an advanced stage. All people with diabetes are at some risk of getting diabetic retinopathy.

Please remember to get professional advice if you have any problems with your sight such as:

  • Your vision suddenly getting worse, distorted, or losing all or part of your vision
  • Getting blurring that is not temporary or related to a change in blood glucose level
  • Getting a sudden increase in floaters or seeing flashing lights in your vision

Diabetic retinopathy can get worse over time, but the following measures can help to reduce risks of developing sight-threatening disease:

  • Control your blood glucose as effectively as possible
  • Keep your regular screening appointments
  • Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy

If your diabetic eye screening is positive for retinopathy you may be referred to our eye service (ophthalmology) for review and possible treatment. Information concerning available treatment can be found on the NHS website – Diabetic retinopathy – Treatment