Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all routine retinal screening appointments for patients with diabetes have been postponed.

If you are pregnant, or if you have been asked to return from another screening appointment earlier than usual (e.g. three or six months), then you should still attend your screening appointments, but may need to check the arrangement for these. 

These appointments are extremely important in preventing avoidable sight loss for people with diabetes. The photographs taken enable clinicians to pick up the very earliest signs of disease caused by diabetes in your eyes. Treatment offered, or lifestyle changes based on these findings, are very important in the fight against sight loss due to diabetes.

However, it is also important to know that a delay of a few months at this time is safer than attending certain appointments and increasing your risk of contracting the virus. It is very unlikely that during that time you would develop diabetic retinopathy that cannot be treated.

Currently, RNIB recommends:

  • You look after your general health as best you can during this time and contact your GP if you feel that your diabetic control is not as good as it should be. 

  • You seek immediate help should you notice any sudden change in your vision. This includes double vision, blurring, floating bits or flashes in your vision. 

In the first instance call your local optician for advice, as some are offering emergency eye care services and they will also be able to direct you as to how to get emergency support locally. 

You could also call 111 or NHS direct depending on where you live.

If you are still having difficulty you can contact your local A&E department. Do not arrive at A&E without an appointment: always call first. Don’t ignore sudden changes in your vision as there are still emergency eye care services available to those who need them. 

When services start to return to normal, we would recommend that:

  1. You have a routine eye examination if it has been over 12 months since your last one, or if you feel your vision has changed. It is likely that you will be able to get an eye examination quicker than your routine screening and optometrists are able to spot signs of diabetic change as part of a routine eye examination.

  2. You check with your GP or diabetic nurse what the procedure is for reinstating your appointment.

You can find more information about the situation in Scotland and current circumstances in Northern Ireland online.

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