County diabetics put their sight at risk

Diabetic retinopathy screening uses eye drops to dilate the pupil before a photo is taken with a special camera.

One in five people with diabetes in Lincolnshire are putting themselves at risk of going blind by failing to attend specialised screenings.

The figures have prompted NHS Lincolnshire to call for people with diabetes to have an annual test that could save them from going blind.

The test, diabetic retinopathy screening, helps identify damage to the retina, a vital part of the eye that transmits images to the brain.

But one in five people invited to the test (20%) are failing to attend the screening appointments, thus putting their sight at risk.

The annual test should be undertaken by people with diabetes, aged 12 or over. More than 36,000 people in Lincolnshire are diagnosed with diabetes.

Isabel Perez, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for NHS Lincolnshire said: “Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults under the age of 65.

“It often has very few symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage, which can led to a sudden loss of vision.

“People who miss their appointments are putting their health at risk, wasting valuable NHS resources and preventing other patients from benefiting from that appointment time.”

Margaret Swaby, Clinical Services Manager from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust explained diabetic retinopathy screening is offered in clinics in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham, and mobile screening vans visit GPs across the county.

“The test is quick and painless; eye drops are used to dilate the pupil before a digital photograph is taken with a special camera.

“The results are then sent to the GP. People who need follow up treatment are referred to specialists at Lincoln County Hospital or Pilgrim Hospital.”

To contact the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service Appointments Office, call 01205 445139.
Source: NHS Lincolnshire