Your screening visit

Diabetic Eye Screening Programme

People with diabetes aged 12 or older should get their eyes screened regardless of whether they use insulin, tablets or diet to keep your their diabetes under control.

At the appointment your sight will be checked. Please bring all spectacles that you may use. You will still need to attend your optometrist (optician) every one or two years for a sight test and checking your overall eye health.

 Photograph courtesy of Birmingham, Solihull & Black Country Diabetic Eye Screening Programme

You will have drops put in your eyes. These will make your pupils bigger. You may want to bring sunglasses with you as everything will look bright due to these eye drops.

It is very important that you DO NOT DRIVE for four to six hours after having the eye drops as your vision will be affected. See below for further information on eye drops.

Photos are taken of the back of your eyes. You will see a flash but nothing touches your eyes.

The sooner you are screened, the sooner we can detect potential problems and protect your vision.

Remember, diabetic eye screening does not detect other eye conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts.

Your results will be posted to you within six weeks. Your GP will also be provided with a copy of your results.

The dilation eye drops

We will test your eyes using Minims Tropicamide 1.0% eye drops. In some situations we may also use Phenylephrine 2.5%. Leaflets about the drops are available should you require them.

The drops may cause a small stinging sensation in your eyes. This will last for a few seconds only. It is similar to getting some soap in your eye.

We would always recommend dilation as the drops allow the screeners to take clear images of your retina, ensuring sight threatening changes are not missed. If you have concerns about the dilation drops, please discuss this with the screener at your appointment. Unfortunately, if you are not happy to have drops we will not be able to proceed with screening, as they are now a mandated requirement of diabetic eye screening.

One exception to this is if you have a known allergy to the drops. This is very rare, however if you have a documented allergy to the drops from your GP/optician or eye specialist please bring this with you to your appointment.

The eye drops we use can last up to six hours. If your vision has not returned to normal after six hours you should seek medical assistance.

Do not drive or operate heavy machinery during this time as the drops used at the screening appointments are designed to widen your pupils (dilation). Dilation can temporarily affect your vision, and you may not be able to read to the required legal distance. Driving under the influence of the drops may also invalidate your insurance whilst the drug is in your system. Please try to avoid driving following your screening appointment.