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Eye screening checks for diabetic retinopathy postponed

People with diabetes are being advised that their normal routine eye-screening check-ups have been postponed due to the current coronavirus situation.

While such check-ups are important in detecting the early signs of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of the disease that can impair vision, it is felt patients run the more serious risk of being infected by the virus if hospital eye clinics remained open as normal.

Healthcare professionals stress it is very unlikely that anyone would develop diabetic retinopathy during this pause in screening that could not be later treated.

In the meantime, people with diabetes are urged to look after their general health as best they can, continue to control blood sugar levels, and contact their GP if they feel their diabetic control is not as good as it should be.

However, should you notice any sudden change in your vision - including double vision, blurring, floating bits or flashes in your vision - call your local optician for advice in the first instance. If needed, they can refer you on to emergency eye care services locally.

Dr Tasmin Sommerfield, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for Screening from NHS National Services Scotland, said: “Following a risk assessment of the coronavirus situation, and in order to protect vulnerable groups, a recommendation to pause the Diabetic Screening Programme was agreed with the Scottish Government. The Programme will be re-commenced when it’s safe to do so.

“People with diabetes, who have concerns about changes in their sight during the pause in the Programme, should contact their General Practice, their diabetes specialist or their optician to discuss their concerns.”

More information can be found on the NHS Inform website,

The RNIB Helpline is also available on 0303 123 999 from 8am to 8pm on weekdays, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.